Earlier that day, the vote count had revealed that the People’s Alliance and FijiFirst were in a deadlock, with both parties failing to secure a majority of seats. But by Tuesday, Dec. 20, Rabuka’s political fortunes had swung back around in his favour: Sodelpa, the so-called “kingmaker party” that suddenly held the balance of power in the hung parliament, decided to ally itself with the People’s Alliance, awarding him an electoral victory.
“I think in Fiji, given our history, there is the fear that instability is just around the corner.”
It’s worth noting that Rabuka, 74, is also a former military alumnus who seized power by launching two separate coups d'état in 1987, earning him the nickname “Rambo.” The first of these was instigated to overthrow the Indo-Fijian government of the time and assert the alleged supremacy of indigenous Fijians. The second was to abrogate Fiji’s constitution and declare the South Pacific island nation a republic. Rabuka has since apologised for staging the coups.While Kant points out that both Bainimarama and Rabuka share strongman tendencies in their approach to politics, however, the difference, he suggested, is that Rabuka—who ruled Fiji for seven years from 1992—seems to be a little less hard-fisted than Bainimarama, who has maintained a relatively tight rein over Fiji for the past decade-and-a-half. As Kant puts it, Rabuka has in recent years positioned himself “a leader who could be a bit more consultative and consensus-oriented, as opposed to Mr. Bainimarama's authoritarian style.”Despite the uncertainty as to how fixed the election result actually is, and whether the situation might change in the coming days and weeks, the change of leadership in Fiji has been broadly praised by political commentators.
“I expect that they will try whatever they can to come back into power.”