Pacific Islands Brief
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The Pacific Islands Brief series seeks to stimulate discussion by providing concise overviews of contemporary issues in the Pacific Islands region. It is available exclusively in electronic format. The views expressed in this series are solely those of the authors and not of any organization with which they are affiliated, nor do they reflect the policy or position of PIDP or the East-West Center.
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The East-West Center ScholarSpace community contains digital versions of just some of the several thousand books, periodicals, and unpublished papers generated by the Center over the past 50 years. Find a complete list of recent East-West Center publications and learn how to obtain them at EastWestCenter.org/publications . Search for recent and older works from 1960 - present using the Center's library catalog at EastWestCenter.org/riscatalog.
Unless otherwise noted, all content © East-West Center. All rights reserved.
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ItemWon by a dictator? the 2014 general elections in the Republic of Fiji(Honolulu, HI: East-West Center, 2014-12-23)This paper analyzes the 2014 general election in the Republic of Fiji in which Interim Prime Minister Rear Admiral (Retired) Josaia Voreqe (Frank) Bainimarama, who led the 2006 coup, won. Bainimarama's FijiFirst (FF) party, gained a substantial parliamentary majority in the 2014 elections. Fiji became independent in 1970. Since then, it has experienced four coups--two in 1987, and one in both 2000 and 2006--and promulgated four constitutions in 1970, 1990, 1997 and 2013. Fiji has been described as having a "coup culture." It held a general election on September 17, 2014, the first since the 2006 coup. The Multinational Observer Group (MOG) in their initial statement recognized that "(a) the outcome of the 2014 Fijian Election is on track 'to broadly represent the will of the Fijian Voters'; (b) the conditions were in place for Fijians to exercise their right to vote freely." Many governments and international organizations around the globe welcomed the implementation of the elections, including Australia, New Zealand, Japan, France, the United States, the European Union, the Commonwealth, the Pacific Islands Forum and the Melanesian Spearhead Group. If asked whether Prime Minister Bainimarama won the 2014 general elections in a credible manner, this author argues in the affirmative. Despite the fact that he initially assumed the prime minister's office through use of force, he is now the elected Prime Minister of Fiji. He freely won the general election. His FF party received 59.2% of valid votes. The next general elections in Fiji will be most interesting to watch. Based on their experiences in the 2014 general election, political parties will likely be able to better adjust their political strategies. The 2014 general election should therefore be seen as only a first step for the people of Fiji to broaden and deepen their democratic system.
ItemNew regional Pacific voice? An observer's perspective on the Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF), inaugural summit, Denarau, Fiji, 5-7 Aguust 2013(Honolulu, HI : East-West Center, 2013-08-28)A new regional body -- the Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF) -- was inaugurated at an international conference organized and hosted by the Fiji Government on 5 - 7 August, 2013 and attended by around 300 delegates. The conference theme was "Leadership, Innovation and Partnership for Green/Blue Pacific Economies" and aimed to advance the vision of a "United, Distinctive and Sustainable Pacific Society. The following report examines the processes and outcomes of this event and provides a preliminary analysis of its significance to Pacific regionalism, as well as to the development agenda of Pacific island countries. It begins with an overview of the origins and background of the PIDF.
ItemNew electoral system for Fiji in 2014 : options for legitimate representation(Honolulu, HI : East-West Center, 2013-02-15)From the time of Fiji's independence in 1970, the country has struggled to adopt an electoral system that adequately caters for its multi-ethnic society, which is predominantly indigenous Fijian or Indo-Fijian. The political struggle between the two main ethnic groups, and within the ethnic groups, has resulted in coups in 1987 (twice), 2000, and 2006. Since independence, Fiji has used a bicameral system of parliament, with a House of Representatives and a Senate. The Senate has been an appointed body, largely composed of nominees from the Great Council of Chiefs, Prime Minister, and Opposition. The Constitution Commission of Fiji is currently undergoing a consultative process ahead of drafting a new constitution for the country, which will include the basis of a new electoral system for Fiji. Despite all the problems of the recent past and the present, Fiji currently has an excellent opportunity to design an electoral system that is thoughtful of the country's unique ethnic and cultural mix, and which maximises the ability for parliament to be a true and accurate reflection of the wishes of the Fijian people. Irrespective of which electoral system is chosen for the re-introduction of democracy in Fiji, it is crucially important to allow political parties ample opportunity to re-establish with their members, and with the general population, well in advance of the election. This will allow the parties to develop policy platforms that address the concerns and hopes of the Fijians. It will also allow parties to adopt thorough candidate selection processes.
ItemNew strategic architecture for the Pacific(Honolulu, HI : East-West Center, 2012-12-13)The United States' historical relationship with Pacific Island countries most frequently conjures up images of 19th Century Yankee whalers and World War II's island-hopping campaign. Often forgotten is how, in the post-war years, the creation of new intergovernmental organizations and U.S. trusteeship of much of the North Pacific contributed to a stronger regional identity and more active efforts at regional integration. Following a period of relative inactivity in the 1990's, the United States is now refocusing on its political and economic role in the region as a matter of priority. Healthy regional intergovernmental organizations remain essential to the success of U.S. efforts. Helping Pacific Island countries see themselves as connected by ocean rather than separated by water is best achieved through robust engagement and support for Pacific regional organizations. A strategic use of the region's intergovernmental architecture is necessary if the countries of the Pacific are to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
ItemBinding constraints to economic growth in the Pacific Islands : some comparative insights(Honolulu, HI : East-West Center, 2012-04-25)What can Pacific island countries learn from successful small island economies in other parts of the world? To answer this question, the approach to economic growth and development of four Pacific island countries--Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, and Samoa--is compared to that of Maldives and Barbados. Both are small island economies that have identified and overcome their binding constraints to economic growth, resulting in long periods of strong economic performance and improvements in general welfare. Of the four Pacific island countries studied, Fiji and Kiribati have carried out economic reforms, but not the comprehensive type of reforms undertaken by Samoa and Cook Islands. Therefore, as well as the comparison with Maldives and Barbados, we compare the results of the reforms attempted across the four Pacific countries to gain a better understanding of the reasons for the different outcomes.