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Casting a blind - eye: is Fiji's 2013 ‘Ethnically - Blind’ constitution a path to democratic stability?

Kant, Romitesh (2017) Casting a blind - eye: is Fiji's 2013 ‘Ethnically - Blind’ constitution a path to democratic stability? Journal of South Pacific Law, NA . pp. 3-36. ISSN 1684-5307

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Abstract

Fiji has a checkered history with democracy. Since gaining independence from the United Kingdom in 1970, its politics have been marked by a pattern of coups and constitutional reform. After the first military coup in 1987, three constitutions designed by political elites have attempted to resolve ethnic tensions and foster democratic stability. Underlying Fiji’s constitutional reforms is a struggle for supremacy between two very different conceptions of the nation, namely ethnic and civic. While the 1970 and 1997 Constitutions sought a form of multicultural compromise with the realities of Fiji’s demographic make-up, demands for continued ethno-political paramountcy by sections of the indigenous Fijian (iTaukei) population led to the overthrow of the democratically elected governments in 1987 and 2000. In fact, the 1990 Constitution institutionalized the privileged ethno-political status of indigenous Fijians. Subsequently, the coup of 2006 ushered in a period of political reform that has sought to promote a more civic and ‘ethnically blind’ set of constitutional arrangements. This article investigates the potential for democratic stability provided by the 2013 Constitution. It argues that while the 2013 Constitution and its provisions do shift the discourse away from previous preoccupations with race and ethnicity, the context of the constitution-making process also indicates that the Bainimarama regime was largely intent on maintaining the status quo.

Item Type: Journal Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Constitutional Reform; Fiji Politics; Democracy; Militarization; Ethnicity; Democratic Stability
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HS Societies secret benevolent etc
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
J Political Science > JF Political institutions (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Business and Economics (FBE) > School of Government, Development and International Affairs
Depositing User: Romitesh Kant
Date Deposited: 18 May 2018 15:23
Last Modified: 18 May 2018 15:23
URI: http://repository.usp.ac.fj/id/eprint/10681
UNSPECIFIED

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