(From left-right): Dr Kesaia Seniloli, Professor Vijay Naidu, Ms Shamima Ali (Coordinator, Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre) and Dr Sandra Tarte with copies of the special issue of Journal of Pacific Studies.
A special issue of the Journal of Pacific Studies (JPacS) titled ‘No Ordinary Election’: The Fiji General Election of 2014 was launched at The University of the South Pacific (USP) in Suva on 16 October 2015.
Having a number of contributing writers from USP, this special issue was edited by Professor Vijay Naidu and Associate Professor Dr Sandra Tarte, both from USP’s School of Government, Development and International Affairs (SGDIA).
The journal covers diverse topics that include: the open list system of proportional representation, electoral engineering, religion and the secular state debate, Taukei land and electoral politics, community based organisation’s reflections on the elections, impacts of the electoral system and media coverage on women candidates’ results, the use of social media by candidates and political parties, voter preferences and election results, and the question of the elections putting Fiji on the road to democracy.
Dr Sandra Tarte said that work on the collection started at the very beginning of 2014 with a discussion between Professor Naidu and her on the importance of the forthcoming election and the special role and responsibility of USP and SGDIA to provide impartial, scholarly analysis of the historic event.
“The expectation that we would undertake research and publish on the election was reinforced by our Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Rajesh Chandra at a meeting with him last year,” she added.
As a first step, Dr Tarte said that SGDIA in partnership with Fiji Women’s Rights Movement and Citizens Constitutional Forum held a research mapping workshop in July last year to identify areas of research and possible collaboration in the lead-up to the election. This was followed by a writers’ workshop where authors presented their draft papers for the collection.
She acknowledged Professor Naidu for encouraging the writers to complete their articles and the team of contributors for staying the course and making this collection possible.
In launching the special edition of the JPacS, Coordinator of the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre, Ms Shamima Ali said that the journal was very significant because various aspects of the 2014 General Election was discussed in a relatively impartial way in one volume.
“As this was the first General Election since the coup almost eight years ago, it was important for researchers to document as many aspects of the General Election so that future elections can benefit from their findings,” she stated.
She further elaborated that the special issue will be a crucial resource for people interested in Fiji’s electoral politics and politics in general, as well as for Fiji scholars, students and observers.
Ms Ali said she appreciated the chapter on women candidates and how women fared better in the latest election.
She recommended the special edition to be read by political leaders and aspirant leaders, scholars, journalists, NGOs, feminists and the wider community.
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