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Post-Coup Fiji and Political Reform: Westminster Under the 2013 Constitution


Herr, RA, Post-Coup Fiji and Political Reform: Westminster Under the 2013 Constitution, India`s Look East to Act East Policy: Tracking the Opportunities and Challenges in The Indo-Pacific, Pentagon Press, M Kaul, A Chakraborty (ed), New Delhi, pp. 155-165. ISBN 9788182748477 (2016) [Research Book Chapter]

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India has variety of reasons based in history, demographics, culture, and the new geo-politics of the Asia-Pacific region for maintaining its close ties with the Republic of Fiji. One of the less appreciated factors, perhaps, has been the shared experience of the Westminster model of parliamentary democracy. This has been an important direct political linkage both broadly through the. Commonwealth of Nations and more specifically through such parliamentary ties as the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA). Although often under-rated by foreign affairs commentators, these parliamentary connections have been significant contributor to international networking through common political expectations and experience. Indeed, the cultural adaptability of the Westminster model has provided a political lingua franca that helps to explain why the Commonwealth of Nations has been such a robust political association for so long. Thus, from the most rarefied philosophical debates to the most practical personal interactions, parliamentary arrangements based on the Westminster model, such as the CPA, have provided a useful platform for cross-national understanding and cooperation within the Commonwealth.

At the time this chapter is being written, it is not clear that the Commonwealth will continue to link India and Fiji. Recent decisions to remove the Queen from its currency, the crown from police insignia and the Union Jack from Fiji's flag have heightened speculation that a complete disengagement from the Commonwealth is likely. 1 Nevertheless, the parliamentary connection will remain a relevant influence in bilateral relations as evidenced by the training of parliamentary staff in India in the lead-up to the restoration of the Fijian Parliament in 2014. Just how important the lingua franca of parliament may prove to be for India will depend, in part, on parliament's role in the new post-coup domestic political environment of Fiji. Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, the architect of the both the 2006 military coup and the return to parliamentary democracy in 2014, has wrought significant changes to the role and operation of the newly restored parliament. Many of the culturally and racially based non-liberal aspects of Fiji's pre-2006 parliamentary system have been removed. Indeed, his roadmap for the return to democracy was grounded in reversing the communalism and ethnic divisions that he believed had been strengthened since independence. This chapter reviews Bainimarama's cure for the perceived malignancy of communalism with a special emphasis on the changes to the Westminster model of parliament in Fiji. Arguably, his cure has created a more liberal, non-racial order for Fiji albeit with a strong corporatist (party political) side effects and a noticeable undertone of personal leadership. These pose some new, perhaps, unintended consequences for the Parliament and its emerging role in the politics of Fiji.

Item Details

Item Type:Research Book Chapter
Research Division:Law and Legal Studies
Research Group:International and comparative law
Research Field:International criminal law
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in law and legal studies
UTAS Author:Herr, RA (Associate Professor Richard Herr)
ID Code:111132
Year Published:2016
Deposited By:Law
Deposited On:2016-08-31
Last Modified:2018-06-26

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