2018 election: Youth voters will matter, says Naidu

Youths at a national conference held in Suva. Picture: FT FILE

POLITICAL parties will need to seriously contest for youth votes in the November 14 election to make gains in the electoral race.

Highlighting this, University of the South Pacific academic in Governance and Developmental Studies Professor Vijay Naidu said the age of voters was another variable that was likely to count in the coming polls.

“Fiji’s population is youthful with a good proportion of the voters being in the 18-35 years category,” he said.

“This group includes all persons who are classified as millennials who have had no exposure to governments other than those led by the present leaders.

“They are the mobile phone, IT and social media generation. Their votes will need to be seriously contested to make gains in the electoral race.”

Prof Naidu said voters who were over 40, and those who were near 55 years and older and who had had experience of earlier forms of democracy and governments, would also feature in terms of whose votes counted.

“In their case the retrograde retirement age of 55 years, and the near halving of national provident fund will be considerations as they mull over which party to vote for.”

He said the appeals to these diverse categories of voters would be crucial for electoral outcomes.

“Political parties will need to prioritise their policies to appeal to the diverse interests of these voters.”

Prof Naidu said the role of the mainstream media would also be crucial for political parties, as would be the use of social media. Intense campaigning in the form of pocket meetings in areas of particularly concentrated populations in urban and peri-urban places, he said, would also be critical for political parties.

“In addition, meetings with women and youth will be tactical. Civil society organisations including faith-based organisations, farmers’ organisations, and trade unions are likely to affect the choice of parliamentarians in the coming years,” he added.

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