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Last updated : Nov 2009
Fiji Government
Fiji Government - TravelPuppy.com
The 1998 constitution allows for a bicameral legislature. In the 71 member Vale (House of Representatives), whose members are popularly elected for 5 year terms, over half the seats are allocated to specific ethnic communities (23 to Fijians, 19 to Indians), the remainder are open, to be contested by anyone. The Seniti (Senate), which also serves a 5 year term, has 34 members, 24 are elected by the traditional Council of Chiefs, while the remainder are appointed. The Council of Chiefs elects the President to serve a 5 year term.

Fiji has been Republic since 1987.

The Head of State has been President Ratu Josefa Ilolio since 2000.

The President is appointed for a 5 year term by the Great Council of Chiefs (Bosu Levu Vakaturaga), a traditional body with roughly 70 members, consisting of every hereditary Fijian chief (or ratu).

The Head of Government has been Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase since 2000.

The 1987 general election brought to power a coalition between the major ethnic Indian party, the National Federation Party, led by Marendra Chaudhry, and the newly formed Labour Party. The new Government had several Indian ministers, which proved too much for many nationalist native Fijians (referred to as Taukei). This was the trigger for an army coup d’état, headed by Colonel Sitiveni Rabuka. Colonel Rabuka declared himself head of an interim military Government and initiated a new constitution, under which blocs of seats in a new assembly were allocated to specific ethnic groups, thereby guaranteeing a Taukei majority. Under this format, the 1992 elections brought to power a coalition subjugated by the principal ethnic Fijian party. Rabuka assumed the premiership.

By the time the revised constitution came into effect in 1998, Fiji’s poor economic performance had damaged the Rabuka Government’s popularity. The Fijian Labour Party was now able to secure an absolute majority in the Vela and an Indian Prime Minister, Mahendra Chaudhry, took office. In May 2000, George Speight organised a rebellion, holding Chaudhry and other ministers as hostages while he issued a series of demands. The stand off lasted 2 months. After originally conceding to most of the rebel demands (including the dismissal of Chaudhry), the military, led by Commodore Frank Bainanarama, took control at the beginning of July. A few weeks later, the military moved against Speight and his followers, who were arrested.

A temporary Government under the veteran Taukei politician, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, was installed with Laisenia Qarase as Premier. Following the elections in August 2001, an alliance Government was formed between the the Fiji United Party and the smaller Conservative Alliance Party (Matanitu Vanua) and, despite the fact that most votes were won by the Labour Party, Laisenia Qarase continued as Prime Minister. The islands have since enjoyed reasonable stability, although nothing has been done to address the underlying causes of Fiji’s political problems. Qarase closely defeated Chaudhry's Labout Party in the 2006 elections.
Useful travel links
Fiji Government Fiji Government, online portal.