12 Sep 2014

Think tank assesses Fiji poll challenge

3:26 pm on 12 September 2014

The Australian think tank, the Lowy Institute, says a lot is riding on the outcome of next week's election in Fiji.

It says achieving a majority will be difficult given the new proportional representation, single electorate, system.

The body says the Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama may have to negotiate a coalition with another party, an option he has repeatedly dismissed.

It says the outcome will also have consequences for Fiji's external relations.

Australia and New Zealand have relaxed their previously tough policies against the regime in the hope the poll will lead to a full restoration of democracy.

If the polls are declared free and fair by international observers, diplomatic and military ties will be restored and Fiji's suspension from the Pacific Islands Forum and the Commonwealth will be lifted.

The Lowy Institute says if he wins, Mr Bainimarama will need to demonstrate a commitment to the other elements of democracy, such as a free media, an independent judiciary and an active civil society.

Fiji's new ballot boxes with old box in foreground

Fiji's new ballot boxes with old box in foreground Photo: RNZ