Suvarna Garge

Fijian by elections, 1968

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Fijian by-elections, 1968

After the 1966 election, Fiji adopted a Ministerial type of Government with Ratu Kamisese Mara, of the Alliance Party, as Chief Minister and A. D. Patel, of the Federation Party, as Leader of the Opposition. Under the old Membership system, Patel had held a portfolio and there was consultation between himself and the Government, but under the new system the Government started making unilateral decisions. When the Government made no effort to reform Fiji's electoral system, AD. Patel moved a motion on 1 September 1967, calling for a new constitutional conference. When it became clear that the Government would use its massive majority to vote down the motion, the Federation members walked out of the Legislative Council.

After the nine Federation Party members missed three consecutive sittings of the Legislative Council, their seats were declared vacant and new elections called. The by-elections for the nine Indian communal constituencies resulted in wins for Federation Party candidates with increased majorities. The Federation Party captured 46,960 of the 59,786 votes cast with the Alliance Party managing only 12,826 votes.

The by-elections were a sign of the increasing ethnic polarization of Fijian politics. While Federation supporters celebrated the wins, some rioting occurred among Alliance supporters with demands to deport Indians.


Fijian by-elections, 1968 Wikipedia

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