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THE FUTURE FOR FIJI


LEGITIMIZING REGIME CHANGE: FIJI’S NEW CONSTITUTION AND THE 2014 ELECTION


A new constitution and a pending election scheduled for 2014, is anticipated to bring some much needed change for Fiji, particularly when it comes to framing its relationship with the pacific and the rest of the world. Political sociologist, Dr Ratuva, outlines aspects of the new constitution, where the removal of ethnic–based seat allocation along with a proportional representation system, is hoped will result in post-election gains for the country.


Dr Steven Ratuva in Auckland. Dr Ratuva is a political sociologist at the University of Auckland. With a PhD from the United Kingdom, he has worked at the Australian National University and University of the South Pacific where he was head of sociology. He has been a consultant and advisor for a number of international organizations and publishes widely on politics and development.


under pressure by arguing that they had their own timetable for reform which was driven by internal needs and not dictated external pressure. The regime’s response was to continually emphasize the political axiom that local problems deserve local solutions.


Dr Steven Ratuva


Seven years after the 2006 coup and five years after the suspension of the constitution, Fiji’s new constitution was eventually promulgated by the president on 6 September 2013. However, the constitutional process was swamped with mixed emotions - uncertainties, anxieties, pessimism and optimism. Fiji was under international pressure as well as internal pressure, to have an election and quickly move towards democracy. At the same time, the coup leaders did not want to be seen to be buckling


182 | The Parliamentarian | 2013: Issue Three


One of the most anticipated aspects of the constitution is the electoral process because the election is the means by which Fiji’s new state is to be legally legitimized and hopefully universally recognized. It is what will ultimately determine Fiji’s re-acceptance into the Commonwealth and Pacific Island Forum (PIF) which both suspended Fiji’s membership; re-instatement of full diplomatic relations and bilateral aid with New Zealand, United States and Australia as well as continuation of relationship with international aid agencies such as the European Union, Asian Development Bank and World Bank. Fiji has been treated like a pariah state for the last seven years and that is why the new constitution


and the proposed election are absolutely critical.


A challenging constitutional path


The recent constitutional reform was probably the most controversial in Fiji’s political history. There were three different drafts before the final one. The first which was produced by the


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