FijiFirst no longer the same party claims Professor Fraenkel

June 6, 2024 4:55 pm

Victoria University of Wellington Comparative Politics Professor Jon Fraenkel

A political expert believes that a drastic change is taking place in FijiFirst reflecting a decline in their vote-pulling power compared to the 2014, 2018, and 2022 elections.

Commenting on the stance taken by 17 of the FijiFirst MPs to support the emoluments committee report, Victoria University of Wellington Comparative Politics Professor Jon Fraenkel claims the party is no longer what it was under the leadership of convicted former Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama and former FijiFirst General Secretary Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

Fraenkel says it is clear that substantial changes are happening in FijiFirst, with forces behind the scenes attempting to retain control.

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Since its inception in 2014, FijiFirst has been a dominant force in Fijian politics.

However, political experts believe that the exit of its key figures has led to internal unrest and a potential shift in its direction.

“I think we’re seeing a definite metamorphosis, a definite change in Fiji first. It can’t continue to be the party that it has been since 2014, the party that it was under Voreqe Bainimarama and Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. Its two principal leaders are out of parliament.”

Professor Fraenkel says that the split within FijiFirst shows weakening control.

“It’s a split that’s emerging by people behind the scenes trying to retain control. But ultimately, it’s a sign of their weakening grip, because after all, if the prime minister were to respond by calling a snap election, I suspect a lot of the Fiji first MPs would lose their seats. They would no longer have the vote pulling power that they had in 2014 or 2018, or even less 2022.”

FijiFirst Member and Opposition MP Semi Koroilavesau earlier confirmed that the differences in the opinion have been there for some time, which has become more evident now.

Following the MPs voting for the Emolument Committee report, FijiFirst has terminated the 17 MPs; however, Speaker of Parliament Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu ruled they remain MPs until further notice.

However, the FijiFirst rift has deepened, with Acting General Secretary Faiyaz Koya urging the Speaker to follow the law as the 17 members are in defiance of the supreme law of the land, which is the constitution.