Indigenous nationalism, "Ethnic Democracy," and the prospects for a liberal constitutional order in Fiji

Stephanie Lawson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The failure of democracy in Fiji is usually attributed to an ethnically fractured polity in which indigenous Fijians have asserted superior rights over those of immigrant communities, especially those of Indian descent. In 1987, an indigenous-dominated military ousted a government elected largely on the strength of Indo-Fijian votes, as did a civilian-led coup in 2000. Another in 2006, however, has confounded explanations of Fiji's politics based on a simple dichotomy of interests between indigenous Fijians and Indo-Fijians when the military toppled a government controlled by indigenous nationalists. A constitutional review process, supervised by the military and purportedly leading to a new, liberal constitution enshrining political equality for all ethnic groups in Fiji, is now in train. This article focuses on the historic production of indigenous nationalism and the demand for "ethnic democracy" and an assessment of the prospects for future constitutional government along inclusive liberal lines.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-315
Number of pages23
JournalNationalism and Ethnic Politics
Volume18
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2012

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