After a turbulent parliamentary election in the Pacific island nation of Fiji, no clear political majority is in sight. Incumbent Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama’s Fiji First Party and the coalition led by opposition leader Sitiveni Rabuka each hold 26 of the 55 parliamentary seats, according to a tally released online by the Fiji Electoral Bureau. The election has political significance outside of Fiji: incumbent Bainimarama is close to China – while rival Rabuka seeks greater distance from Beijing.
Complex and lengthy negotiations are likely to await us before the formation of the government. Leading candidates Bainimarama and Rabuka are flirting with the small social democratic party led by pious businessman Villiam Gavuka, which has three seats in the future parliament and is likely to tip the scales.
Four coups in 35 years
Fiji has experienced four coups in the past 35 years. Both the incumbent Bainimarama and his rival Rabuka actually came to power through coups. Before this year’s election, many people hoped in vain that things would go smoothly. The very close result came after allegations of fraud and calls for military intervention.
Tropical Fiji, made up of more than 300 islands, has a population of just under a million. However, Fiji is one of the most influential players in the South Pacific and has a strong voice in the global debate about the consequences of climate change. Fiji, already threatened by sea level rise, was the first country in the world to ratify the Paris Climate Agreement in 2016.