The Failure of Democratic Politics in Fiji

By Stephanie Lawson | Go to book overview

5
Towards Independence: Institutional Change and the Emergence of the Party System

THE CONTEXT OF CHANGE

At the beginning of the 1960s, at a time when the political institutions of the colony, as well as the attitudes of the politically dominant groups, had scarcely changed for a considerable period of time, it would have been impossible to foresee that, just ten years later, Fiji would become an independent nation. Like the idea of common roll, the thought of independence was anathema to the Fijians, many of whom continued to hold strongly to the belief that the British Crown Colony system constituted the only viable defence against the perceived threat of political domination by the Fiji Indians. Influences external to Fiji, however, had been mounting for some time. Colonial powers were coming under increasing pressure, particularly from the United Nations and its special committee on decolonization, to hasten the process of decolonization and Britain, under a Labour government, 'was making the first moves towards liquidating a no longer viable empire'.1 The time-honoured notion of gradualism and the idea of 'making haste slowly'--an expression always popular amongst Fijian leaders--was about to be confronted in a fairly abrupt manner. This was a crucial period in the modern political development of Fiji for, as Barrie Macdonald noted, it not only saw the colonly firmly committed to self-government 'but also established the framework within which future political struggles would take place'.2

The political alignments that developed in Fiji in the colonial

____________________
1
W. T. Roy, "'Britain in Fiji, 1875-1970'", Australian Journal of Politics and History, 23 ( 1977), 381.
2
Barrie Macdonald, "'Imperial0 Remnants: Decolonization and Change in the British Pacific Islands'", Round Table, 259 ( 1975), 286.

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