Editorials: Fiji Elections: For Once Race Is Not An Issue | Eurasia Review

Fiji Islands – where ethnic Indians comprise about 37 percent of its 840,000 population spread of 110 inhabited islands – is in election mode with catchy radio jingles, glossy banners and other paraphernalia of campaigning on display. The general election on Sep 17 is expected to bring an end to the eight-year-long military government in the South Pacific island nation. The radio jingles are to help people memorize numbers as the single ballot for the entire country will carry no names, only numbers to identify the candidates. Fiji, which has had three elected governments overthrown by armed men in as many decades, is holding an election after eight years with a new and distinctive voting system under a new constitution promulgated by the military regime headed by Rear Admiral Frank Bainimarama. Race or ethnicity has been a pivotal aspect of the cultural, political and economic life in Fiji’s complex society. But race will not play a role in the election process this time. The new constitution has done away with race-based electoral rolls, race-based seat quotas and some special privileges of the indigenous Fijians. Under the new system, all Fiji citizens are now called “Fijians”, irrespective of their origin. Indigenous Fijians form 56 percent of Fiji’s population while people of Indian origin account for 37 percent. Political rivalry between the two groups led to two elected governments being overthrown by radical indigenous Fijians, irked over the loss of political power to what were perceived as Indian dominated governments. The 2006 coup was not racially motivated.

Full Article: Fiji Elections: For Once Race Is Not An Issue - Analysis - Eurasia Review.

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