IB 2018/28 Commerce and Confusion: Reporting the 2018 Fiji Election Results
Elections provide extensive commercial opportunities. Campaign material including banners; articles of clothing; advertising in newspapers and on television, radio and electronic media; transportation and providing food at rallies — all these open spaces for firms and individuals to benefit commercially from what have become the signal events of capitalist democracy.
The November 2018 election in Fiji was no different, except in one major aspect: the Fijian Elections Office (FEO) introduced a further note of competition into the commercial sphere by using a major international firm, Facebook to announce results as well as the locally produced television and radio programs.
This In Brief explores one consequence of the innovation, not simply instances of what is now known as ‘fake news’ (Fiji Sun 16/1½018) that resulted in confusion which in turn opened space for rumour-mongering and allegations of election rigging in favour of the successful FijiFirst party. Allegations regarding the forthcoming election had been prominent for months before the poll was held. The way results were reported added to existing doubts. Confidence in the accuracy of vote counts is important to political stability anywhere, but especially in Fiji, where the election was only the second election held after a long period of military government following the 2006 coup.