1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Fiji: Ex-coup leaders face-off in parliamentary election

December 14, 2022

Leaders of two separate military coups both hope to secure parliamentary majority in Fiji, with the outcome likely determining the nation's policy towards China.

Two women dropping ballots in a plastic container
The elections hold significance for Fiji’s democracy amid growing Chinese influenceImage: REUTERS

Polling began in the Pacific island state of Fiji on Wednesday, with about half million people eligible to cast their vote and choose Fiji's next prime minister.

More than 1,000 police personnel have been deployed to maintain law and order. The island is holding its third democratic election since 2006.

Observers from 16 countries will oversee the elections as voters elect 55 parliamentarians out of 343 candidates. 

Fiji on the frontline of climate change

The polls will close on Wednesday evening and the results are likely to be announced on Sunday.

Who are the candidates?

The polls pit leaders who previously led separate military coups. Incumbent Frank Voreqe Bainimarama, who leads the FijiFirst Party faces off against former prime minister and opposition leader Sitiveni Rabuka in the race for parliamentary majority. 

In 2006, Bainimarama, 68, led the country’s fourth coup in 20 years to seize control of Fiji. After eight years of holding onto power, he allowed general elections in 2014 and scored a sweeping victory.

Rabuka, who is looking to end Bainimarama's 16 years in power, is a former army colonel. He led two military coups in 1987 to oust the elected government.

 "I'm feeling great and getting better. But victory belongs to the Lord," Rabuka said as he addressed the media after casting his vote at a polling booth in the capital, Suva.

What is at stake?

The elections hold significance for Fiji’s still-fragile democracy amid growing Chinese influence

Under Bainimarama, Fiji has come closer to China. He introduced the "look north" policy which allowed greater Chinese involvement in the country.

Meanwhile, Rabuka has said that Fiji will pivot away from Beijing under his leadership. 

mf/dj (AFP, dpa)

Skip next section DW's Top Story

DW's Top Story

Two women speak to a crowd holding EU and Moldovan flags
Skip next section More stories from DW
Go to homepage