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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

No to AV campaign caught out again

The No to AV campaign have already been taken to task over their misleading and untrue claims that switching to a fairer voting system will cost £250 million. The truth is that a pencil and a manual count is all that is needed, even if they are trying to push a rolls royce model on us so as to justify their case.

Now, today's Independent has caught them out again with their claim that there are only three countries in the world who use AV and that one of them, the pacific island chain of Fiji, is so fed up with the system that it’s planning to scrap it and move back to First Past The Post.

In fact, as the paper points out the truth is more sinister, has nothing to do with the merits and demerits of AV, but everything to do with the fact that the island chain's ruler does not really like democracy:

So what do we know about the political situation in Fiji and its leader Prime Minister Bainimarama?

Well, it’s not just AV that Mr Bainimarama wants to get rid of. He doesn’t much like democracy, an independent judiciary or a free press either.

The last time Fiji had elections of any sort was in 2006 and shortly afterwards Bainimarama – then the commander of the Fijian armed forces – organised a coup which overthrew the democratically elected Government.

Initially he promised fresh elections in 12 months (which never happened), then elections in 2009 (again cancelled) then 2010 (you get the idea).

Currently the regime is promising elections in 2014. A lack of elections is not Fiji’s only problem. Bainimarama is not too keen on an independent judiciary either.

In 2009 – the same year Bainimarama made his remarks about AV – the regime abolished the country’s constitution, sacked the judiciary and established a “new legal order”. The reason? Fiji’s second highest court had just ruled that Bainimarama’s military coup was illegal.

Next target was the independent press. Last year Bainimarama introduced a Government decree imposing jail terms on journalists whose work was deemed by the authorities as against the “public interest or order’”.

It has also banned foreign ownership of news organisations. This was a move designed to force News Limited (the Australian arm of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation) to sell the respected Fiji Times to a potentially more malleable owner.

All this has resulted in Fiji being suspended from the Commonwealth and the imposition of sanctions from the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

Oh, and Amnesty International said earlier this month that the Fijian military had been arbitrarily arresting political opponents, and at least 10 people had been targeted and subjected to torture and beatings.

So that is what they mean when they talk about a truly democratic system.
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