State and politics
Political life in Fiji is turbulent. Following a coup
d'état led by Commander-in-Chief Voreqe ("Frank")
Bainimarama in December 2006 (the fourth in order since
independence in 1970), Fiji became a military dictatorship.
Also see AbbreviationFinder for abbreviation of FJ and its meanings of Fiji. The constitution was repealed in 2009. According to the
repealed constitution, the president was to be appointed by
a chief council for a term of five years, but Ratu Epeli
Nailatikau, president since 2009, was appointed by the
country's highest judge on the recommendation of the
government, led by Bainimarama. The term of office of the
President was changed to three years and the Vice
President's office was removed. The parliamentary elections
that were promised were postponed gradually, but were
finally held in September 2014. In this, Bainimarama's party
won Fiji First, which received 59 percent of the
vote against 28 percent for the second largest party, the
Social Democratic Liberal Party.
A new constitution was adopted in September 2013. This
meant, among other things, that the two-chamber parliament
was replaced by a single-chamber parliament with 50 members
elected in general elections every four years. The
President, who is head of state with predominantly
ceremonial duties, is elected by Parliament for three years
and can be re-elected once. The government is led by the
prime minister. The military continues to play a central
role and, according to the constitution, is responsible not
only for the security and defense of the country, but also
for the "well-being" of Fiji and all Fijians.
According to the 1970 constitution, Fiji was a monarchy
within the Commonwealth; the British Queen was represented
by a Governor General. The country had a democratic
constitution, which included complicated rules to cater to
the interests of different ethnic groups. In 1987 Sitiveni
Rabuka conducted two military coups. After the second, the
archipelago was proclaimed a republic and thus left the
Commonwealth. Fiji returned as a member in 1997, but was
suspended from the coup in 2006 and until elections were
held in September 2014.
Fiji's domestic politics has since been marked by
contradictions between ethnic Fijians (Melanesians) and
Indians. When a left-wing coalition consisting of the
Fiji Labor Party (FLP) and the National Federation
Party (NFP), representing the Indian population group,
in 1987 defeated the Alliance Party, which has
ruled the country since 1970, followed two military coups.
The constitution that came into force in 1990 guaranteed the
Fijians majority in parliament. As a result, the
relationship between Fiji and India deteriorated, and many
The constitution adopted in 1997 gave the Indian people
increased political rights but was still ethnically based.
The 1999 election marked a victory for FLP, and Mahendra
Chaudhry took office as Fiji's first Prime Minister of
Indian origin. In May 2000, however, a new coup was carried
out by businessman George Speight. Chaudhry and his
government were captured, and the country was in a deep
political crisis. The coup makers demanded that Fiji's
political power be reserved for Fijians of Melanese origin.
The military, with Bainimarama at the forefront, forced the
president, Ratu Kamisese Mara, to step down and made sure
that the former government was released. Ratu Josefa Iloilo
was appointed president and a transitional government led by
Laisenia Qarase was appointed. In 2001, new parliamentary
elections were held, which resulted in Qarase's newly formed
Fiji Nationalist Party (SDL) receiving the most seats in
parliament despite the Indian-dominated FLP receiving the
most votes. In the 2006 elections, SDL was again victorious,
but later that year Bainimarama carried out his military
The country's highest court is the Court of Appeal,
which is reviewing appeals against the decisions of the
High Court. Material law is based mainly on English
law, with some elements of local customary law.
The death penalty was abolished in 1979 for crimes
committed during peacetime, but can still be punished under
war or war-like conditions. The last execution took place in
Since 1970, Fiji has experienced four military coups (see
History) and respect for human rights has diminished for
every change of government.
Fiji's modern history is characterized by a lack of
democracy and contradictions between ethnic Fijians and
Fijians of Indian origin. Conflicts over land and lease are
a major problem and many ethnic Indians have chosen to leave
Fiji. From having been in the majority during the mid-20th
century, the Indian population through national escape has
been greatly decimated and today accounts for less than 40
The country's constitution was repealed in 2009, an
emergency permit was introduced and the country has since
been ruled as a military dictatorship. The regime under
President Voreqe Bainimarama severely limits the people's
right to freedom of expression, association and assembly.
Arbitrary arrests, harassment and torture of regime critics
and human rights defenders occur to a large extent.
Corruption is widespread and impunity applies to the police
Despite severe restrictions on press freedom and the
imminent risk of journalists being imprisoned in connection
with their professional activities, Reporters Without
Borders' index of freedom of press still shows an
ever-improving situation in the country. In 2015, the
country placed 93 out of 179 countries in comparison to 149
Violence and discrimination against women are major
problems in the country. Harassment and sexual abuse are
extensive at the same time as the reporting rate is low.
Also, abuse of children such as sexual commercialization has
increased despite prohibitions in the country's legislation.
The education system is well developed and the right to
schooling is prioritized, but at the same time figures show
a decline in school attendance during the 00s.
Heads of State
||Ratu Penaia Ganilau
||Ratu Kamisese Mara
||Voreqe (Frank) Bainimarama
||Ratu Josefa Iloilo
||Ratu Epeli Nailatikau
* From independence in 1970 to the proclamation of the
republic in 1987, Britain's Queen Elizabeth II was head of