Also: फ़िजी « Fijī »; फीजी « P‛ījī »; Fiji.
Officially: Matanitu Tugalala o Viti; रिपब्लिक ऑफ फीजी « Ripablik ā´p‛ P‛ījī »; Republic of Fiji.
Seat of government: Suva.
Status: Not democratic.
Structure: Military-influenced semi-democracy. In theory, parliament is elected by party-list proportional representation, and chooses the prime minister.
Governing party: FijiFirst.
Head of government: Voreqe (Frank) Bainimarama, FF, prime minister (since 2006).
Chief opposition party: Social Democratic Liberal Party (continuing Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua).
Assessment: The state is divided racially between Melanesians and ethnic Indians, and has seen turmoil, coups, and dubious elections resulting from this division. Kamisese Mara (1967-87, 1987-92) and his Alliance Party had governed since independence (1970) with the support of Melanesians and Europeans, the latter having granted themselves disproportionate influence in the race-based electoral system. In a 1987 election, the National Federation Party – Fiji Labour Party coalition won a majority of seats (while finishing a close second to Alliance in the popular vote), supported mostly by Indo-Fijians but led by Melanesian Timoci Bavadra (PM 1987); it was quickly overthrown by military chief Sitiveni Rabuka (1987-99), with Mara as nominal prime minister, abolishing both the monarchy and the non-ethnic parliamentary seats. In 1992, Rabuka held an election and declared his Soqosoqo ni Vakavulewa ni Taukei the victor, and did the same in 1994. A new constitution in 1997 lessened the reserve for Melanesians in parliament, and in the next election (1999), the Indo-Fijian-based FJL promptly won an absolute majority, with Mahendra Chaudhry (1999-2000) as premier. This was followed in 2000 by yet another Melanesian putsch, ostensibly led by George Speight, who held the government hostage in the parliament building for two months. Military chief Bainimarama took effective control of the state within a fortnight, and the putsch was successful de facto: Chaudhry was deposed, Mara (then president) resigned, and the army began dismantling the multiracial democracy. Bainimarama appointed as premier Laisenia Qarase (2001-6), who in essence pledged permanent exclusion of Indians from high office. The new president, Josefi Iloilo (2000-6, 2007-9), was the choice of Speight. Elections in 2001 to restore democracy were tainted by the racial voting system and charges of vote-rigging; Qarase became premier under the new system, heading a government of the SDL. He refused to share power with Chaudhry, though the constitution required this; after two years, the supreme court finally ruled against Qarase, who then invited Labour into the government, which ultimately refused. A second general election, in 2006, was apparently also won by the SDL; Labour accepted an invitation to join the government. At the end of the year, Bainimarama seized power again, in opposition to SDL policies that were in retroactive support of the putsch, first as president (with Jona Senilagakali as prime minister) and soon as prime minister (with Iloilo returned to the presidency). A court ruling against the régime in 2009 led to a statement by Iloilo that he was taking power, though he immediately “appointed” Bainimarama as prime minister for five years. Yet another constitution was instituted in 2013, abolishing the ethnic electoral system and the power of hereditary chiefs. A 2014 election was officially won by Bainimarama’s FijiFirst.
FH: 6-4, partly free (not democratic). Econ: 5.11 (100), hybrid.
Updated: 2015 April 24.