House of Representatives (Fiji)

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The House of Representatives is the lower chamber of Fiji's Parliament. It is the more powerful of the two chambers; it alone has the power to initiate legislation (the Senate, by contrast, can amend or veto most legislation, but cannot initiate it). The House of Representatives also has much greater jurisdiction over financial bills; the Senate cannot amend them, although it may veto them. Except in the case of amendments to the Constitution, over which a veto of the Senate is absolute, the House of Representatives may override a Senatorial veto by passing the same bill a second time, in the parliamentary session immediately following the one in which it was rejected by the Senate, after a minimum period of six months.

Also, the Prime Minister and Cabinet must retain the confidence of a majority of the House of Representatives in order to remain in office.

History[edit]

The House of Representatives in its present form dates from 10 October 1970, when Fiji attained independence from the United Kingdom. Under a grandfather clause in the 1970 Constitution, the old Legislative Council, which had functioned in various forms since 1904, was renamed the House of Representatives and continued in office until 1972, when the first post-independence elections were held. Membership of the House of Representatives was increased from 36 to 52 in 1972, and to 70 in 1992. It presently has 71 members, all of whom are elected for five-year terms to represent single-member constituencies.

Electoral system[edit]

The electoral system has been changed a number of times since independence in an effort to meet the competing demands of Fiji's diverse ethnic communities. In elections from 1972 through 1987, Fiji was divided into communal and national constituencies. The former were elected by voters registered as members of specific ethnic groups (12 indigenous Fijians, 12 Indo-Fijians, and 3 General Electors - Caucasians, Chinese, and other minorities); the latter were allocated to specific ethnic groups (10 indigenous Fijians, 10 Indo-Fijians, and 5 General Electors), but elected by universal suffrage. The system was a compromise between indigenous demands for a strictly communal franchise (based on fears of being swamped by an Indo-Fijian block-vote) and Indo-Fijian calls for universal suffrage, and was never widely popular. Ethnic Fijian nationalists blamed the national constituencies for the election of an Indo-Fijian dominated government in 1987, and following two military coups, they were abolished by the new republican Constitution of 1990.

The elections of 1992 and 1994 saw all 70 members elected from communal constituencies; this system was widely resented by many Indo-Fijians, who complained that only 27 seats were allocated to them as opposed to 37 to ethnic Fijians, despite the near equality of their numbers at that time. A further 5 seats were allocated to minority groups.

A constitutional review in 1997 introduced a new system, with 71 members. 25 are elected by universal suffrage from Open constituencies ("open" meaning that the franchise is open to all locally resident Fijian citizens, irrespective of their ethnic background), with the remaining 46 elected from communal constituencies, with 23 seats reserved for ethnic Fijians, 19 for Indo-Fijians, 1 for Rotuman Islanders, and 3 for "General Electors" - Europeans, Chinese, Banaban Islanders, and other minorities. Every Fijian citizen eligible to vote thus has two votes - one for an open electorate, and one for a communal electorate. The system remains controversial, however.

The open constituencies used at present differ from the former national constituencies in that while both comprise all registered voters on a common voters' roll, regardless of race, the open constituencies may be contested by members of any ethnic group whereas the national constituencies were ethnically allocated.

Organization[edit]

At its first session following a general election, the House of Representatives elects a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker. With a view to ensuring impartiality, the Speaker is not allowed to be a member of the House, though he must qualify for membership. The Deputy Speaker, however, is elected from among members of the House.

Latest election[edit]

e • d Summary of the 6-13 May 2006 Fiji House of Representatives election results
Parties Votes  % Seats +/-
Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua (SDL) 342,352 44.59 36 +2
Fiji Labour Party (FLP) 300,797 39.18 31 +4
National Federation Party (NFP) 47,615 6.20 0 -1
National Alliance Party of Fiji (NAPF) 22,504 2.93 0
United Peoples Party (UPP) 6,474 0.84 2 +1
Party of National Unity (PANU) 6,226 0.81 0
Nationalist Vanua Tako Lavo Party (NVTLP) 3,657 0.48 0
Soqosoqo ni Vakavulewa ni Taukei (SVT) 238 0.03 0
National Democratic Party (NDP) 123 0.02 0
Party of Truth (POTT) 51 0.01 0
Social Liberal Multicultural Party (SLM) 49 0.01 0
Coalition of Independent Nationals (COIN) 20 0.00 0
Justice and Freedom Party (JFP) 18 0.00 0
Independents 37,571 4.89 2
New Labour Unity Party Didn't contest 0 -2
Total 767,695 71 71
Source: Elections Office of Fiji. The former Conservative Alliance with six seats merged into the SDL. SDL got two seats less than SDL and CA together.

The current composition of the House of Representatives, together with its officers, is as follows:

Speaker and Deputy Speaker[edit]

Office Incumbent
Speaker Pita Nacuva [1]
Deputy Speaker Niko Nawaikula [2]
[1] The Speaker is not allowed to be a member of the House.

[2] The Deputy Speaker is required to be a member of the House. The current Deputy Speaker, Niko Nawaikula, represents the Cakaudrove West Fijian Communal Constituency for the Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua (SDL) Party.

Open Electorates[edit]

Electorate Member of Parliament Political Party
Ba Mahendra Chaudhry FLP
Bua Macuata West Ratu Josefa Dimuri Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua
Cakaudrove West Ratu Osea Vakalalabure SDL
Cunningham Rajesh Singh SDL
Labasa Poseci Bune Fiji Labour Party
Lami Mere Samisoni SDL
Lau Taveuni Rotuma Colonel Savenaca Draunidalo Fiji Labour Party
Laucala Losena T. Salabula SDL
Lautoka City Daniel Urai Manufolau Fiji Labour Party
Lomaivuna Namosi Kadavu Ted Young SDL
Macuata East Agni Deo Singh Fiji Labour Party
Magodro Gyan Singh Fiji Labour Party
Nadi Amjad Ali Fiji Labour Party
Nadroga Mesulame Rakuro SDL
Nasinu Rewa Azim Hussein Fiji Labour Party
Nausori Naitasiri Asaeli Masilaca SDL
Ra George Shiu Raj SDL
Samabula Tamavua Monica Raghwan Fiji Labour Party
Serua Navosa Jone Navakamocea SDL
Suva City Misaele Weleilakeba SDL
Tailevu North Ovalau Josefa Bole Vosanibola SDL
Tailevu South Lomaiviti Adi Asenaca Coboiverata Caucau-Filipe SDL
Tavua Damodran Nair Fiji Labour Party
Vuda Felix Anthony Fiji Labour Party
Yasawa Nawaka Adi Sivia Qoro Fiji Labour Party

Communal Electorates (Fijian)[edit]

Electorate Member of Parliament Political Party
Ba East Paulo Ralulu SDL
Ba West Ratu Meli Q. Saukuru SDL
Bua Mitieli Bulanauca SDL
Cakaudrove East Ratu Naiqama Lalabalavu SDL
Cakaudrove West Niko Nawaikula SDL
Kadavu Konisi T. Yabaki SDL
Lau Laisenia Qarase SDL
Lomaiviti Simione Kaitani SDL
Macuata Isireli Leweniqila SDL
Nadroga Navosa Ratu Isikeli Tasere SDL
Naitasiri Ilaitia Bulidiri Tuisese SDL
Namosi Ro Suliano Matanitobua SDL
Nasinu Urban Inoke Luveni SDL
North East Urban Nanise Nagusuca SDL
North West Urban Joji N. Banuve SDL
Ra Tomasi Vuetilovoni SDL
Rewa Ro Teimumu Vuikaba Kepa SDL
Serua Pio Tabaiwalu SDL
South West Urban Ratu Jone Kubuabola SDL
Suva City Urban Mataiasi V. Ragiagia SDL
Tailevu North Samisoni Tikoinasau SDL
Tailevu South Irami Matairavula SDL
Tamavua Laucala Urban Ratu Jone Wagairatu SDL

Communal Electorates (Indo-Fijian)[edit]

Electorate Member of Parliament Political Party
Ba East Jain Kumar Fiji Labour Party
Ba West Narendra K. Padarath FLP
Labasa Kamlesh Reddy FLP
Labasa Rural Mohammed Tahir FLP
Laucala Dewan Chand FLP
Lautoka City Jai Gawander FLP
Lautoka Rural Udit Narayan FLP
Macuata East Cakaudrove Vijay Chand FLP
Nadi Rural Perumal Mupnar FLP
Nadi Urban Dr. Gunasagaran Gounder FLP
Nadroga Lekh Ram Vayeshnoi FLP
Nasinu Krishna Datt FLP
Suva City Gyani Nand FLP
Tailevu Rewa Ragho Nand FLP
Tavua Anand Babla FLP
Vanua Levu West Surendra Lal FLP
Viti Levu South Kadavu Chaitanya Lakshman FLP
Viti Levu East Maritime Sanjeet Chand Maharaj FLP
Vuda Vyas Deo Sharma FLP

Communal Electorate (Rotuman)[edit]

Electorate Member of Parliament Political Party
Rotuma Jioji (George) Konrote Independent

Communal Electorates (General Electors)[edit]

Electorate Member of Parliament Political Party
North Eastern Robin Irwin Independent
Suva City Bernadette Rounds Ganilau UPP
West Central Mick Beddoes United Peoples Party (Fiji)

External links[edit]