SOTP2016 - Democracy in the Pacific: The state of play
This session reviews the democratic state of play in the Pacific. Pacific democracy, which is highly variegated, has proven remarkably resilient. Despite some major challenges—most notably the suspension of democracy in Fiji in 2006—democratic elections remain the main way in which Pacific societies decide who governs and how they hold their leaders to account. On the face of it, recent democratic trends appear positive, with most national elections being reasonably free and fair, and democracy extended in Tonga and restored in Fiji. But many Pacific democracies also face significant—and in some cases existential—challenges. These include the increasingly moneyed nature of politics, issues of political instability, the continued marginalisation of women in formal politics, and the delivery of more inclusive forms of development. The democratic environment is also changing rapidly, with the rise of social media, deepening urbanisation, and ongoing processes of regional and global economic integration. This session will take stock of the state of democracy and consider what these developments mean for the future of democracy in the region.