The future of our country rests with the young people. As Fiji’s election management body, the Fijian Elections Office needs to create facilitative environment that encourages young people to become active participants in electoral activities as well as instil principles of ethical participation in the political process.
Discuss various options of engagement that may be available. Show examples of some successful approaches from elsewhere in the world. In your opinion, what would be some of the key principles that FEO could undertake and finally what should be the measure of the success of the initiative you suggest?
From 1914 to 1918 a great war was fought, leaving eight (8) million dead and over thirty (30) million wounded or missing.
Never before in history had such a terrible destruction occurred in one massive struggle that drew into combat from nations all round the world. During the nineteenth (19th) century and the first decade of the twentieth century, a number of factors that combined to create a “war climate” are Imperialism, nationalism and newspaper press, militarism and arms race and the alliance system.
(The Modern World Emerges, 1986 : 119-121)
Imperialism means the policy of gaining and holding colonies by force, in terms of revenue through the rich mineral resources that the colony has and prestige as well. With power comes prestige and with more colonial possessions comes power and dominance. The scrabbling of colonies in the past, has greatly influenced and affected our beloved nation Fiji. As the Indentured system was introduced by the first governor of Fiji, Sir Arthur Gordon, a great deal of indentured laborers suffered greatly through ill-treatments, abuse and many more.
These sufferings lasted for a long period of time before the General Elections in 1929. This general election allowed the Indo-Fijians to vote. Later on the women were allowed to vote in 1963 along with the Indigenous Fijians. A great mass of people around the globe suffered due to greed and power hunger from dictatorships. These dictatorships rule by force and threat through their totalitarian governing system. This type of government prohibits people to exercise their rights or have any say in the political affairs of the nation. Therefore, due to this universal suffrage, the United Nations had strongly recommended for a fair equal treatment of people. One of the main mechanism of allowing the people to voice their opinion is through democracy. With democracy comes elections.
I do believe that the future of our country rests with the young people, as the youths of today are leaders of tomorrow. Henceforth, it is critical for the young generation to actively participate in the political affairs of the nation through election. The various options of engagement that may be available are as follows:
Create awareness – the public could be made aware of this through forms of media (radio, television and newspaper), as well as social network. Some people are not aware of the voting procedures and to help solve this, the public could be advocated through this powerful platform, media. The Fijian Elections Office did this by disseminating information to the public about the election processes towards the end of 2017 for the preparation of the 2019 General Election. Since media is one of the powerful platforms of disseminating information to the public, globally this is a main form of advocating and educating the public about the electoral system and its processes.
Election materials – pamphlets and posters were made in multi-languages to advocate on the voting procedures and systems. Visual aids is one of the powerful tool of learning. Therefore more pictures to be provided to cater for this and most countries in the world did this.
Voters Education and Electoral Participation program -reading and learning are two totally different things. Therefore, the skilled and experienced personnel to be recruited to educate the public about the election process and the voting system. It could be done in multi-languages to cater for everyone, particularly the grassroots. This was done in most parts of the world, including Fiji.
Apart from educating the public on the election process, the election process and the voting system itself should be part of learning in schools. In order to do so, the Ministry of Education along with the Electoral body should work closely together to incorporate this into the curriculum. This was recently introduced in Fiji, whereby the Election and its processes was incorporated into the Year 10 Social Science curriculum. I was blessed and fortunate to be the Trainer for the 2019 General Election and Year 10 Social Science teacher to witness students actively participated in this with enthusiasm.
Moreover, in India, the Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation program also known as SVEEP is the flagship program of the Election Commission of India for Voter Education, spreading voter awareness and promoting literacy in India. Its primary goal is to build a truly participative democracy in India by encouraging all eligible citizens to vote and make informed decisions during elections.
India also adopted the United National Photo Electoral Roll (UNPER), the system of combining demographical information, personal particulars and a photograph of voter for the entire nation to avoid multiple entries. Moreover, the National Voter Service Portal (NVSP) was also a mechanism to engage more people to vote by allowing users to click on the NVSP link to search for their particulars in the system provided. This allows for easier access than wasting the peoples’ money and time to locate where the Elections office are. For the country of Georgia, the Electoral Development School was established in 2015 and the project was launched in the same year to cater for the young generation. It has been expanding and gradually occupying the whole country. The school targets the youth aged 18-24 including the first time voters and familiarizes them with key topics in the field of elections. It was one of the most effective form of reaching out to the young generation in Georgia. The Central Electoral Commission of Georgia received an International Award in 2017 for its Citizen Engagement and innovative project. (Best Innovations and Initiatives for Enhancing Voter Participation 2019 : 11-14)
By looking at the initiatives of the two countries mentioned, I believe Fiji could also come up with such projects, like for Georgia, a special school was designed to cater for youth participation in the electoral process. For my perspective, instead of building schools, special programs to be incorporated in the universities or institutions in Fiji to specialize on this only as Fiji is still in a transitional period from the traditional system to the modern system. therefore a lot of learning needs to take place because most Pacific people are indigenous to the island nations in which they live and their cultures and learning systems have existed for thousands of years, predating the introduction of schools by European missionaries and later colonial administrators in the 19th and early 20th century.
For that reason I strongly believe that this should be taken into consideration and to make it worse the four coups that our beloved nation have gone through could also be the hindrances to the lack of participation from people during election due to lack of trust in the political arena. I suggest that the Electoral body of Fiji to look into the political system and find means and ways to bridge the gap between the traditional mindset of people to the modern system.
- Lawrence. J, Eshuys. J, Guest. V, 1986. The Modern World Emerges, The Jacaranda Press, Auckland, New Zealand.
- Best Innovations and Initiatives for Enhancing Voter Participation 2019 : 11-14
Cite this essay
Fiji’s election management body and active electoral participation. (2019, Dec 06). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/fijis-election-management-body-and-active-electoral-participation-essay