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11 November 2022

Fiji rates as a ‘weak democracy’ – global study

Wednesday 24 November 2021 | Written by RNZ | Published in Fiji, Regional

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Fiji rates as a ‘weak democracy’ – global study
Fiji's parliament buildings in Suva. Photo: RNZ / Jamie Tahana

Fiji has been classified as a "weak democracy" in an annual study by The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance.

The ranking appeared in the report The Global State of Democracy, released by the Stockholm-based non-governmental organisation (NGO).

The Institute uses the term to describe countries that had low scores on one or more democratic scorecards, including representative government, fundamental rights, checks on government, impartial administration and participatory engagement.

The report notes that Fiji's did not experience any improvements in scores attributed to fundamental rights and checks on government.

Fiji scored 0.6 for fundamental rights, where 0 represented the lowest achievement in the sample and 1 was the highest.

"Fundamental rights captures the degree to which civil liberties are respected, and whether people have access to basic resources that enable their active participation in the political process," the report said.

"It includes access to justice, civil liberties, and social rights and equality. It also includes freedom of expression, freedom of association and assembly, freedom of religion, freedom of movement, personal integrity and security, basic welfare, social group equality and gender equality."

Fiji scored 0.5 - half of the best score - on the "checks on government" scorecard measuring effective control on executive power.

This included effective parliament, judicial independence and media integrity," the report said.

"Democracies can be weak, mid-range performing or high-performing, and this status changes from year to year, based on a country's annual democracy scores."

"Democracies in any of these categories can be backsliding, eroding and/or fragile, capturing changes in democratic performance over time.

"Backsliding democracies are those that have experienced gradual but significant weakening of checks on government and civil liberties, such as freedom of expression and freedom of association and assembly, over time.

"This is often through intentional policies and reforms aimed at weakening the rule of law and civic space. Backsliding can affect democracies at any level of performance."

Questions on the report were sent to Fiji attorney-general Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum.

Pacific News Agency