History of the Parliament of the Republic of Fiji
Fiji’s first parliamentary type body was established in November 1871.
In October 1874, Fiji was proclaimed a British Colony and was subsequently administered by a Governor-General, through the Legislative Council, as a possession and dependant of the British Crown.
In 1964, the Membership System of Government was first introduced in Fiji with elections for Members of the Legislative Council who were given specific portfolios.
In July 1965, a constitutional conference was held in London to discuss further progress towards independence and self-government.
A ministerial system of government was introduced in Fiji in 1967 and Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara was appointed as the Chief Minister with the Executive Council of the Legislative Council becoming a Council of Ministers.
On 10 October 1970, Fiji gained independence from Great Britain and established itself as a parliamentary democracy. As a former British Colony, Fiji adopted a bicameral Westminster Model parliamentary system. On 27 November 1970, the Governor-General Sir Robert Sidney Foster, GCMG, KCVO, addressed a joint sitting of the House of Representatives and the Senate to officially open Fiji’s first ever Parliament.
The first general election based on a cross-voting system was held in 1972 and the Alliance Party, led by Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, won 33 out of the 52 seats. The National Federation Party (NFP) won the remaining 19 seats in the House of Representatives.
Parliamentary rule was disrupted by a military-led coup in1987.
There were political upheavals in 1987, 2000 and the year 2006.
Following the development of a new constitution (Constitution of the Republic of Fiji), elections were held in September 2014 to select Members for a new Parliament. The new Parliament opened on 6 October 2014.
The Parliament of the Republic of Fiji is a unicameral legislature comprising 50 members elected by an open-list proportional representation in one multi-member nationwide constituency.
The Parliament of the Republic of Fiji meets in the Government Buildings located in the capital city of Suva.
The current building is the same building where the first Parliament of Fiji met after independence in 1970 and where it continued to meet until 1987. From 1992 to 2006, Parliament met in Veiuto, Nasese. The Parliament of the Republic of Fiji has now returned to the original building in Government Buildings, Suva.
The centrepiece of the building is the Parliament Chamber, with a U shape seating arrangement. Features of the chamber include the Speaker’s Chair and the central table on which the Mace sits during the sittings of Parliament.
The Mace is the symbol of authority for the Speaker to preside over Parliament. It is placed in brackets on the central table at the start of a day’s proceedings and removed at the end of the day to signal the close of parliamentary business for that day.