Former FijiFirst MPs Transition to Crossbenchers: What Does This Mean for Government Operations?

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, clarified this, noting that the convention in a parliamentary system requires all Opposition members to vote together in support of their political party.

Kotobalavu explained that since the former FijiFirst MPs are now independent and no longer part of any political party, their leader, Inia Seruiratu, has permitted them to vote as crossbenchers if they choose. “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 Party MPs has indicated their decision to operate as crossbenchers. Kotobalavu suggested that these MPs have likely examined the electoral provisions of the 2013 Constitution and the results of past general elections for independent candidates.

The 2013 Constitution mandates that any independent candidate or political party must secure at least 5 percent of all valid votes cast to share in the distribution of seats in Parliament after an election. “Accordingly, it is not surprising that the Bulitavu-led independents are holding exploratory discussions with People’s Alliance Party leader Sitiveni Rabuka,” Kotobalavu added. “The exploratory discussions are for a crossbench relationship, ensuring the People’s Coalition Government continues its operations undisturbed.”

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