THE FIJI TIMES: Nasik Swami Saturday, April 01, 2017
IT will be interesting to see how the approval ratings of political party leaders emerge as the country moves closer to the 2018 General Election, says an academic.
Economist Neelesh Gounder of the University of the South Pacific (USP) says political leaders have very little time remaining to build on the trust of the electorates and win their votes.
Mr Gounder said the Tebbutt-Times poll in February, which gave FijiFirst leader Voreqe Bainimarama an approval rating of 78 per cent as prime minister of Fiji ahead of Opposition Leader Ro Teimumu Kepa (44 per cent), National Federation Party (NFP) leader Professor Biman Prasad (36 per cent) and Social Democratic Liberal Party leader Sitiveni Rabuka (34 per cent), was a base for leaders to build on their support.
“The magnitude of approval for each of the three leaders appears to be related with the other poll question on preferred choice for prime minister. Although at varying levels, the poll results show all leaders enjoy stronger approval than disapproval in their leadership role,” he said.
Mr Gounder said while Mr Bainimarama had a strong lead in terms of approval ratings, the leaders of other parties also fared out strongly considering the nature of media coverage of party leaders in the public arena.
“Prof Prasad’s approval is higher among the iTaukei (42 per cent) than Fijians of Indian descent (33 per cent).
“This is particularly interesting as it shows his support spans across both major communities. It also shows that the NFP leader’s message is cutting across both communities in a positive way.”
Mr Gounder said Prof Prasad’s rating was significantly higher in the Western Division (41 per cent) than in Central Division (29 per cent).
“This could potentially reflect NFP’s continuous stand on issues related to the plight of sugarcane farmers.
“The other surprising aspect is the approval rating of SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka. Despite not being in Parliament, his net approval is 34 per cent. It will be interesting to see how the leaders’ net approval/satisfaction ratings emerge as Fiji moves closer to the elections.