Fiji has had four different statutes since
independence in 1970. The most recent was adopted in
September 2013 and restored democracy after the country
was ruled as a military dictatorship since 2006, when
then-Army Chief Josaia "Frank" Voreqe Bainimarama took
power in a coup.
The 1990 constitution guaranteed the ethnic Fijians
majority in the parliament, giving the group
disproportionate political power over the country's
Indians. The 1997 Constitution strengthened the position
of the Indians, but still meant continued benefits for
the Fijians. One motive for the coup in 2006 was to
abolish the positive special treatment of the Fijians,
and in 2009 Bainimarama repealed the 1997 constitution.
Total population and chart of Fiji for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024. Also covers population density, birth rate, death rate and population growth rates.
The current constitution provides that all citizens
are equal before the law, regardless of ethnic
affiliation. But since many Indians have emigrated since
the 1990s, those who remain have been transformed into a
shrinking minority, and the majority position of the
Fijian indigenous people has in fact strengthened.
Fiji is a republic whose president is head of state
and commander-in-chief. Formally, the president has
executive power, but in practice they usually act on the
advice of the government. However, the President has the
opportunity to send a bill back to Parliament for new
consideration. All new laws must be approved by the
President in order to take effect. The President is
elected by Parliament for three years and may be
re-elected at most once. In the event that the President
is unable to perform his duties, the responsibility is
temporarily assumed by the President of the Supreme
The government is led by a prime minister who
appoints and dismisses ministers at his discretion.
Government members are individually and collectively
accountable to Parliament. The prime minister can be
dismissed if a simple majority of parliamentarians
support a vote of no confidence in a vote. Before the
vote, a possible new prime minister must be appointed.
Although the president is formally commander in
chief, it is the prime minister who has the right to
call for state of emergency following consultation with
the national police chief and the defense chief.
Bainimarama has been prime minister since 2007 when
he appointed himself to the post. When free elections
were held in September 2014, Bainimarama's party won
Fiji first and the former dictator was elected
Democratic Prime Minister.
The legislative power is held by Parliament. With the
Constitution of 2013, a single-chamber parliament
(previously Parliament had two chambers) was introduced
with 50 members to be elected in general elections every
four years according to a proportional system. The
voting age was lowered from 21 to 18 years. The
eligibility age is also 18 years. A political party or
an independent candidate must get at least five percent
of the vote in order to take a seat in Parliament. The
former regional constituencies were abolished and all of
Fiji became a single constituency. For the future
elections, the Electoral Commission has the opportunity
to change the number of Members in Parliament to reflect
the population composition. In the autumn 2018 election,
51 members were elected.
Constitutional amendments can be adopted through
referendums, if three-quarters of voters say yes. On the
other hand, a referendum must be preceded by the
amendment passed by Parliament three times, of which the
last two by a three-quarters majority, so in practice
the threshold is so high that constitutional changes are
Previously, there was an influential council of up to
70 Fijian chieftains who inherited their position within
the respective clan. Since the Chief Council refused to
support the 2006 coup, it was disbanded by Bainimarama
and finally abolished in 2012.
The Constitution gives the military overall
responsibility not only for the country's defense and
security, but also for its "well-being", which has been
interpreted as an opportunity for the army to intervene
in political decisions that the generals do not like.
All military members who participated in the coup in
2006 are guaranteed impunity and this immunity cannot be
called into question by a court or revoked by a
constitutional amendment. Nor can any financial
compensation be paid to persons who have suffered damage
as a result of the coup.
Two new independent authorities were created in the
new constitution: a tribunal to deal with disciplinary
matters in public administration and a commission to
work against corruption.
Fiji is divided into four administrative regions
consisting of 14 provinces and a number of
municipalities, plus the autonomous possession of Rotuma.
The judicial system is based on the British legal
system. The Supreme Court is the Supreme Court, under
which there is an Court of Appeal and a High Court (High
Court, roughly equivalent to the High Court). The lowest
court is the Magistrates Court. The judges of the upper
bodies are appointed by the President on the
recommendation of the Prime Minister, the Chancellor of
Justice and a Law Commission. At the lower level, judges
and other legal personnel are appointed by the Legal
Ahead of the 2014 parliamentary elections in January
2013, the government issued new rules for the political
parties. Among other things, they must have at least
5,000 paying members and undertake to follow certain
general rules of conduct in order to take part in
Of the 17 parties before the 2006 coup, only two were
approved. The others were declared dissolved and their
financial assets seized by the state. In addition, five
newly formed parties were allowed to stand in the
The old parties got involved was the National
Federation Party (the National Federation
Party, NAP) and the Fiji Labor
Party (Fiji Labor Party, SLP).
Both have previously received support mainly from the
Indian people group. Among the new ones were the
Social Democratic Liberal Party (Sodelpa),
which has emerged from the Fijinationalist
United Fiji Party (Soqosoqo Duavata ni
Lewenivanua, SDL), which gained the
most seats in the 2001 and 2006 elections.
People's Democratic Party (People's Democratic
Party, PDP) was formed in 2013 with the
support of the trade union movement to promote the
interests of workers and unions, regardless of ethnic
background. In the spring of 2014, Prime Minister
Bainimarama formed his own party, Fiji First
(Fiji First), who was also allowed to stand for
election that year. Also approved were One Fiji
(One Fiji Party, OFP) and
Fiji's United Freedom Party (Fiji United
Freedom Party, FUFP).
Only three parties passed the parliamentary
five-percent blockade in the 2014 and 2018 elections:
Fiji first, Sodelpa and NFP.
In 2017, Ett Fiji (OFP) was deregistered after having
received its financial report failed by the authorities.
In the same year a new party was registered, the
Unity Party (UP).