Agora-SHS Ateliers gouvernance et recherche Appliquée
Nouméa, Thursday 11 July 2024

Sciences Sociales Nouvelle Calédonie Sciences Humaines



Senior Research Fellow

State, Society & Governance in Melanesia Program
Research School of Asian and Pacific Studies
ANU College of Asia and the Pacific
Coombs Building No 9, Office 4114
Australian National University
ACT 0200

Tel- ++ 61 2 61253300
Mob- ++ 61 448606399

Fiji & New Caledonia; a Microcosm of the World’s Great ’Electoral Engineering’ Debate.

Both Fiji and New Caledonia adopted elaborate institutional arrangements in an effort to mitigate conflict during the 1990s. Fiji’s 1997 constitution included a preferential system, the alternative vote - an electoral system recommended by Duke University’s Professor Donald Horowitz as a means of encouraging moderate political parties and the emergence of conciliatory coalitions. Key features of New Caledonia’s 1998 Noumea Accord were power-sharing institutions, a proportional electoral system and a devolved provincial administration - arrangements close to those canvassed by the University of California’s Professor Arend Lijphart, the other key protagonist in the debate about what institutional arrangements are best suited for deeply divided societies. Whereas Fiji subsequently witnessed a collapse of the moderate political parties, two coups (2000, 2006) and military rule, New Caledonia has experienced a series of reasonably peaceful elections, splintering both amongst loyalist and pro-independence parties and at least some degree of cooperation between former adversaries in cabinet. The Horowitz/Lijphart debate has raged from South Africa to Bosnia to Iraq to Northern Ireland, but is nowhere thrown into such sharp relief as in the contrast between these two Pacific neighbours. This paper explores whether the distinct fate of Fiji and New Caledonia over the past decade arose because of the different kinds of conflict each experienced in the 1980s or whether this had anything to do with the design of the institutional arrangements.

Jon Fraenkel is a Senior Research Fellow in the State, Society & Governance in Melanesia Program, in the College of Asia and the Pacific at the Australian National University. He is author of The Manipulation of Custom; from uprising to intervention in the Solomon Islands (Victoria University Press & Pandanus Books, 2004) and recently co-edited The 2006 Military Takeover in Fiji; A coup to end all coups?, ANU EPress, 2009. His current research work focuses on contemporary Pacific politics, economic history of Oceania, electoral systems and women’s representation in the Pacific Islands.

— compare the impact of constitutional settlements to conflict in Fiji & New Caledonia, including references to the Fiji coup and the May NC elections.
— I work on a number of areas relevant
to the French pacific...Including (1) elections in New Caledonia and French
Polynesia, (2) women’s representation in the Pacific as a whole (but with
the French territories figuring prominently due to the law on parity) and
(3) power-sharing (comparing Fiji & New Caledonia’s rules on cabinet
formation), as well as 4) economic history of the South Pacific (with some
coverage of New Caledonia’s minerals industry).

He is The Economist’s Pacific Island correspondent and regularly covers contemporary Pacific issues for other international media outlets.

Relevant Publications

The 2006 Military Takeover in Fiji; A coup to end all coups?, ANU EPress, Canberra, 2008.
[co-edited with Stewart Firth & Brij V. Lal], available free-on-line at

From Election to Coup in Fiji; The 2006 Campaign & its Aftermath, Institute of Pacific Studies, Suva, & Asia-Pacific Press, Canberra, 2007, (co-edited with Stewart Firth), available free on line at

The Manipulation of Custom; From Uprising to Intervention in the Solomon Islands, Victoria University Press & Pandanus Books, Wellington & Canberra, November 2004.

‘Political Culture, Representation and Electoral Systems in the Pacific Islands’, Commonwealth and Comparative Politics, 43, (3), 2005, Special Issue on Pacific Electoral Systems (co-edited with Bernard Grofman, University of California - Irvine).

The Manipulation of Custom; From Uprising to Intervention in the Solomon Islands, Victoria University Press & Pandanus Books, Wellington & Canberra, 2004

‘Fiji; Issues and Events 2008’, The Contemporary Pacific, 21: 2, Autumn, 2009.

‘The Coming Anarchy in Oceania? A Critique of the “Africanisation of the South Pacific” Thesis’, Journal of Commonwealth & Comparative Politics, 42, (1), 2004, pp1-34.

‘Le Coup d’État de Décembre 2006 à Fidji: Qui, quoi, où et pourquoi ?’, Revue Juridique,
Politique et Économique de Nouvelle-Calédonie, 2008, p22-37.

‘Does the Alternative Vote Foster Moderation in Ethnically Divided Societies? The Case of Fiji’, Comparative Political Studies, 39 (5), 2006, pp623-651 (with Professor Bernard Grofman, University of California, Irvine). [see also the rejoinder from Horowitz & the response in the same issue)

‘Power-Sharing in Fiji & New Caledonia’, (ed) Firth, S., Globalisation, Governance and the Pacific Islands, Globalisation and Governance in the Pacific Islands, State, Society and Governance in Melanesia, Studies in State and Society in the Pacific, No. 1, 2006, available free online at

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