The Electoral Commission adopted the public opinion poll guidelines for the 2022 General Election on 5 July 2022. This was published on the Commission’s website for all interested agencies to refer to and comply with when pertaining to the opinion poll for the 2022 General Election. However, the Commission noted that Fiji Sun published a public opinion poll on 6 August 2022 which did not follow the approved ESOMAR & WAPOR guidelines.
The Commission findings are that:
- a) Fiji Sun is the parent company which directs Western Force Research to carry out general research survey works, opinion polls for the newspaper and therefore it is bound by the adopted guideline.
- b) That western force research is a home based small business that does not have a business website nor any social media page. The guideline provides that the researchers are required to promptly identify themselves and unambiguously state the purpose of the research and enable respondents to check their identity and bona fides without difficulty.
- c) The Guideline also provides that the basic principle of fair and informative reporting requires that it be made clear on how and where the enquirer can obtain additional details. The survey company and the media should publish all required full details of public opinion polls on their website within hours of publication. As such Fiji Sun- Western Force Research publication does not comply with this standard.
- d) Researchers must ensure that adequate security measures are employed to prevent unauthorized access, manipulation and disclosure to the personal data. Western Force Research has failed to demonstrate that it has sufficient capacity to deliver this requirement.
- e) The Guideline provided that the name of the organization which conducted the poll and its sponsor, the organization or person who paid for the poll must be disclosed. The Western Force Research company does not exist according to the company search conducted and the company is purportedly owned by the name of Mere Serukalou rather as claimed in the response.
- f) In its response, Western Force Research claimed that they take a sample size of 1000 respondents based on the demographics of Fiji. The guideline requires that researchers observe the need for samples of appropriate size and quality and technical consideration particularly affecting pre-election polls. Such polls must have a sample large enough to draw conclusions about voters.
- g) Western Force also stated that all research survey data is handed to Fiji Sun but also noted that this is currently not published by Fiji Sun. The guideline commensurate that researchers and those publishing survey data must make available sufficient information to enable the public and other stakeholders to evaluate the results.
- h) The interviews were conducted by teams targeting bus stands, markets, housing settlements, neighborhood, taxi stands etc. The required standard requires that exit poll interviews conducted in a public place must take special care about respondents’ confidentiality. However, there is lack of information on how this confidentiality was maintained by the interviews while being out on field.
- i) The interviews were mostly done face to face in markets, towns, and neighborhoods ensuring that respondents are not politically biased, politically active or affiliated with a certain political party. The standard required outlines that the actual question wording is critical to interpreting the findings, and to eliminate ambiguity and misunderstanding. There is lack of information on what questions were asked to the respondent and how it was ascertained that these respondents were impartial.
- j) The guideline also highlights that for interviews conducted face to face, the researchers must ensure that the interviewers must be professionally trained on how to conduct such polls, that interviewers act properly and are adequately supervised. Again Fiji Sun-Western Force research being a home-based business must be sponsored for carrying out such training. However, there is no mention of sponsor details and how they train their team for conducting such a poll.
- k) The June poll and the recent poll on 6th August published by Western Force Research failed to state how many interviews were done face to face, how many were done by telephone calls and interviews through social media by divisions, age, gender and locations. Fiji has four divisions Central, North, Eastern and West yet the research company has left out our Maritime zones formally known as the Eastern division and within those divisions there are zones or areas such as the Lami area, Nasinu/Nakasi area, Nausori area and the Navua area but none of this were mentioned in any of the polls published as per the ESOMAR/WAPOR guideline, sampling method is vital in publishing any public opinion poll.
Therefore, the Electoral Commission urges all agencies conducting opinion poll on the 2022 General Election to abide by the guidelines adopted by the Commission. You can find the guidelines on our website: https://www.electoralcommission.org.fj/guidelines on-opinion-polls-published-surveys/