The official count for the 2022 Fiji polls is now underway and there are early signs incumbent Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama could lead his FijiFirst Party (FFP) to form a government for a record third term.
That’s unless the numbers shift significantly towards its major rivals, the People’s Alliance Party (PAP), the National Federation Party (NFP) and Sodelpa when the final results start to trickle in.
At 7am on Thursday, the Fijian Elections Office (FEO) office released its final set of provisional results – that counted 59 percent of the total vote – which shows Bainimarama’s FFP collected 162,084 votes or 45.9 percent of the total votes cast across 1238 out of 2071 polling stations on election day.
The People’s Alliance, which is led by former prime minister Sitiveni Rabuka, has 115,358 votes (32.7 percent), while the NFP amassed 32,809 ballots (9.3 percent). Social Democratic Liberal Party (Sodelpa), which was the major opposition in Parliament after the past two elections, received 16,202 votes (4.6 percent) which would not be enough to enter parliament.
For other smaller parties, including the Fiji Labour Party, Unity Fiji, We Unite Fiji Party, New Generation Party, All Peoples Party, and two independent candidates, it is looking unlikely they will reach the five percent threshold needed to get into parliament.
The final results are expected to be released on Sunday.
Glitch in the system
Provisional figures indicate turnout could have been as low as 60 percent and this became a key concern at the close of polls.
The counting process has also become a talking point as it suffered a scare late last night when the elections office found a glitch in the provisional count on the FEO Results App.
“The anomaly caused at least two candidates to receive a high number of disproportionate votes, which forced the FEO to pause the provisional count,” said Fiji Elections Office supervisor Mohammed Saneem.
“We had to take the app and results platform down because when we published the last results with 507 polling stations we detected an anomaly in which we noted certain candidates had results that were like 28,000 and 14,000 on the app,” Saneem told media.
“To cure this, the FEO had to review the entire mechanism through which we were pushing our results,” he said.
Saneem said the Result Management System is an offline system and a staging laptop is used to try to transmit the results to the app and the website.
“We have to see how the results change and we noted that it was in the process where we were transferring the data from the staging laptop to the app. In one instance, the upload had been interrupted midway and this caused the mismatch of the ID of the candidate in the app to the staging laptop,” he said.
This caused the vote numbers for certain candidates to change. They suddenly got a lot of those votes in the app. As a result, the elections body had to discard the data already published, reupload the data on the app, and republish it, as a result.
RNZ Pacific’s regional correspondent Kelvin Anthony asked the elections chief in Suva if the Results App could malfunction again as political parties will be raising their concerns about the glitch and seeking answers.
“Don’t worry about the Results App. The results management system is the data tool. We’re giving you results from the result’s management system, printouts, and you can go through it yourself,” Saneem said.
Rabuka suggests tally could have been ‘doctored’
The People’s Alliance Party leader, Sitiveni Rabuka has criticised the provisional vote count. Talking to the media today, he said the tally could have been “doctored” during a glitch which occurred during the 12-hour provisional vote count reporting period.
Rabuka has said he will be writing to Saneem and the Fiji president about his concerns.
The National Federation Party has also raised the following issues and election irregularities with the Fiji Elections Office:
- Elections official influencing voters
- FijiFirst campaign materials being displayed during THE blackout period
- Facebook campaigning for FijiFirst
- Protocols at a count centre were unclear
- Confusion over bus companies providing free transport to polling stations
- Transport monitoring officers not being present on buses providing free transport to polling stations.
Saneem has told RNZ Pacific they are looking into the claims.
At 1:45pm local time the official results were starting to show on the Results App.
The first results with 28 of 2071 polling stations counted showed PAP leading with 654 votes followed by FijiFirst on 257 and Sodelpa on 104.