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Fijian Alliance

The Fijian Alliance, also known as the Alliance Party, was the ruling political party in Fiji from 1966 to 1987. Founded in the early 1960s, its leader was Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, the founding father of the modern Fijian nation. Widely seen as the political vehicle of the traditional Fijian chiefs, the Alliance Party also commanded considerable support among the Europeans and other ethnic minorities, who, although comprising only 3-4 percent of Fiji's population, were over represented in the parliament (with a third of the seats before 1973, and a sixth thereafter, allocated to them). Indians were less supportive, but the Fijian-European block vote kept the Alliance Party in power for more than twenty years.

Alliance Party rule was briefly challenged in 1977, when a split in the ethnic Fijian vote resulted in the loss of eight seats. The Alliance ended up with 25 seats in the 52-seat parliament, one less than the Indo-Fijian-dominated National Federation Party (NFP). Three days after the election, however, the NFP splintered in a leadership brawl, and the Governor General of Fiji, Ratu Sir George Cakobau asked the Alliance to remain in power in a caretaker capacity. A second election was held later that year to resolve the impasse; the Alliance was returned with an unprecedented 36 seats out of 52.

The majority of the Alliance Party was weakened in the 1982 election, but with 28 seats out of 52, it retained office. In 1987, the party was finally beaten by a multi-racial coalition led by Timoci Bavadra, an ethnic Fijian who nevertheless drew most of his support from the Indo-Fijian population.

A military coup led by Lieutenant Colonel Sitivini Rabuka deposed the new government. After several months of turmoil, the former Prime Minister Ratu Mara, the Alliance Party leader, was called back to head a transitional government. As part of a major realignment of Fijian politics, however, the Alliance Party was dissolved. Several political parties today claim to be its successor.