Exploring Crossbench Politics: What Lies Ahead?

The inclusion of crossbenchers in Parliament poses no threat to the operations of the Coalition Government.

A former permanent secretary in the Prime Minister’s office, Jioji Kotobalavu, explained this, stating that the convention in a parliamentary system mandates that all members of the Opposition must always vote together as a bloc in support of their political party.

He noted that since the former FijiFirst MPs no longer belonged to any political party, and as independent MPs, they had been allowed by their leader, Inia Seruiratu, to vote as crossbenchers if they wished.

“This means that as crossbenchers, they are free to vote on their conscience in support of Bills or motions tabled in Parliament by the People’s Coalition Government,” he said.

“Other than that, they will continue to sit in the Opposition benches.”

“The Bulitavu-led group of former FijiFirst MPs have indicated their decision to operate as crossbencher MPs.”

Mr. Kotobalavu mentioned that it was likely these MPs had studied the electoral provisions of the 2013 Constitution and the results of past general elections for candidates who stood as independents.

He explained that the 2013 Constitution required that for any independent candidate or political party to share in the distribution of seats in Parliament after an election, they must attain the threshold of at least 5 percent of all valid votes cast.

“Accordingly, it is not surprising that the Bulitavu-led independents are holding exploratory discussions with People’s Alliance Party leader Sitiveni Rabuka.”

“The exploratory discussions are for a crossbench relationship. This means the People’s Coalition Government continues undisturbed or uninterrupted in its operation.”

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