Jon Fraenkel

Prof Jon Fraenkel profile picture

Professor School of History, Philosophy, Political Science & International Relations


Teaching in 2020


  • DPhil University of Sussex


Jon Fraenkel is a Professor in Comparative Politics in the School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations at Victoria University of Wellington. He formerly worked at the Australian National University (2007-12) and the University of the South Pacific in Fiji (1995-2007). He is author of The Manipulation of Custom; from uprising to intervention in the Solomon Islands and co-editor of The 2006 Military Takeover in Fiji; A coup to end all coups? He is the Pacific Islands correspondent for The Economist.

Current research projects

Jon’s current research focuses on: the politics of highly heterogeneous societies; institutional design in divided societies; state-building in Solomon islands; coups and elections in Fiji; Papua New Guinea; debates about patronage, clientelism and money politics; electoral reform; and the economic history of Oceania. Several collaborative projects are under way with Pacific Islander scholars.

Thesis supervision

Jon supervises PhD students at both the Australian National University and at Victoria University of Wellington. Jon’s current PhD students are looking at New Zealand’s free association agreements with the Cook Islands and Niue, democratizing monarchies in the Asia Pacific and Political Settlements in East Timor and Bougainville. Recently completed theses have covered women’s representation in the Pacific islands, elections in Solomon Islands and the Fiji military.

Selection of recent publications

  • 'The Remorseless Power of Incumbency in Fiji's September 2014 Election', The Round Table, Special Issue on Fiji Elections, (ed) Brij Lal, 104, (2), 2015, pp151-164.
  • 'Greed and Grievance in Solomon Islands', Journal of Pacific History, Online First, 2015.
  • 'Fiji; Issues and Events 2014', The Contemporary Pacific, 27, 2, 2015.
  • 'An Analysis of Provincial, Urban and Ethnic Loyalties in Fiji's 2014 Election', Journal of Pacific History, 50, (1), 2015, pp38-53.
  • 'The Borda Count and its Real World Alternatives: Comparing Scoring Rules in Nauru and Slovenia' (with Bernard Grofman, University of California), Australian Journal of Political Science, June 2014.
  • 'Fiji; Issues and Events 2013', The Contemporary Pacific, 26, 2, 2014.
  • 'Resolving Conflict in Bipolar Societies: The fate of political settlements in Fiji and Northern Ireland' (with John Coakley, University College, Dublin), Political Science, 66, (1), 2014.
  • 'Post-Colonial Political Institutions in the Pacific Islands: A Survey', Politics, Development and Security in Oceania, (Eds) David Hegarty and Darrell Tryon, ANU EPress, 2013. pp169-184.
  • 'European Models of Government in the Postcolonial Pacific', Politics, Development and Security in Oceania, (Eds) David Hegarty and Darrell Tryon, ANU EPress, 2013.
  • 'Comparing across Regions: Party Systems and Heterogeneity in Indonesia and the Pacific Islands' (with Ed Aspinall); Centre for Democratic Institutions, 2013.
  • 'The Origins of Military Autonomy in Fiji: A Tale of Three Coups', Australian Journal of International Affairs, 67, (3), 2013, 327-341.
  • 'Fiji; Issues and Events 2012', The Contemporary Pacific, 25, 2, 2013.
  • 'Party-Hopping Laws in the Southern Hemisphere', Political Science, 64, (2), 2012.
  • 'Conflict Prevention in the Commonwealth: The 2000 Fiji Coup', International Negotiation, 17, 2012, p449-484. [with Craig Collins].
  • 'Fiji; Issues and Events 2011', The Contemporary Pacific, 24, 2, 2012.
  • 'The Politics of Conflict Reduction in Fiji', Diminishing Conflicts in Asia and the Pacific; Why some subside and others don’t, (eds), Edward Aspinall, Robin Jeffrey, Anthony Regan, Routledge, 2012.
  • 'New Zealand and the Pacific Islands', Te Ara, Encyclopaedia of New Zealand, 2012.
  • 'The Atrophied State: An Analysis of 'Slush Funds' in Western Melanesia', Duncan, R (ed) The Political Economy of Economic Reform in the Pacific, Asian Development Bank, 2011.
  • 'The Resumption of Oil Palm Production on Guadalcanal's Northern Plains', Pacific Economic Bulletin, 25, (1), 2010. [with Harry Brock & Matthew Allen].
  • 'Oceania’s Political Institutions and Transitions', Conclusion, Pacific Ways: Government and Politics in the Pacific Islands, (ed) Stephen Levine, Victoria University Press, 2009.
  • Fraenkel, Firth & Lal, The 2006 Military Takeover in Fiji; A coup to end all coups? ANU EPress, Canberra, 2009. – & several chapters including - 'The Great Roadmap Charade; Electoral Issues in Post-Coup Fiji'; 'Introduction: The Enigmas of Fiji’s Good Governance Coup' [co-authored with Stewart Firth]; 'The Fiji Military and Ethnonationalism: analysing the paradox' [co-authored with Stewart Firth],.
  • 'Redistricting via Coups and Constitutions; The Construction of Ethnically-Mixed Constituencies in Fiji 1970-2007', in Comparative Redistricting, (ed) Lisa Handley, Oxford University Press, 2008 Oxford & New York, pp 123-139.
  • 'The Origins of the Coup Culture in Fiji', Hotspot: Asia and Oceania, (ed) Clinton Fernandes, Greenwood Press Westport Connecticut & London, 2008, pp51-66.
  • 'Electoral Engineering, Social Cleavages and Democracy', in Domestic Perspectives on Contemporary Democracy, (ed) Peter F. Nardulli, University of Illinois Press, Urbana & Chicago, 2008, pp71-101 (with Bernard Grofman).
  • 'The Impact of RAMSI on the 2006 Elections in the Solomon Islands', Politics and State-Building in Solomon Islands, (eds) Sinclair Dinnen & Stewart Firth, ANU Press, 2008.
  • 'Fiji; Issues and Events 2007', The Contemporary Pacific, 20: 2, Autumn, 2008.
  • 'From Election to Coup in Fiji; The 2006 Campaign & its Aftermath', Institute of Pacific Studies, Suva, & Asia-Pacific Press, Canberra, 2007 (with Stewart Firth) – and several chapters therein including 'The Fiji Coup of December 2006 – Who, What, Where and Why?'; 'Bipolar Realignment under the Alternative Vote System; An Analysis of the 2006 Electoral Data', 'Multi-Party Cabinet & Power-Sharing', 'Preface: Fiji’s Perpetual legitimacy Crisis', 'Shifting Visions, Changing Calculus', editor’s introduction (with Stewart Firth); 'Cycles of Party Politics', (with Stewart Firth); 'The Strategic Impasse; Mahendra Chaudhry and the Fiji Labour Party' (with Samisoni Pareti); 'Whatever Happened to Western Separatism' (with Apolosi Bose).
  • '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.
  • 'The Merits of Neo-Downsian Modelling of the Alternative Vote: A Reply to Horowitz', Public Choice, 133, (1-2), 2007, p1-11. [with Bernard Grofman]
  • '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).
  • '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.
  • 'Political Instability, 'Failed States' and Regional Intervention in the Pacific', in Redefining the Pacific? Regionalism, Past, Present and Future, Jenny Bryant-Tokelau and Ian Frazer (eds.) Ashgate: London, 2006.
  • 'The Impact of Electoral Systems on Women’s Representation in Pacific Parliaments', in A Woman's Place is in the House – the House of Parliament; Research to Advance Women's Political Representation in Forum Island Countries, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Suva, 2006.
  • 'Regulating Bipolar Divisions; A Case Study of Ethnic Structure, Public Sector Inequality and Electoral Engineering in Fiji', in Bangura, Y. (ed) Ethnic Inequalities and Public Sector Governance, Palgrave-Macmillan, 2006.
  • 'The Political Consequences of Pacific Island Electoral Laws', Political Parties in the Pacific Islands, (ed) Rich, R., Hambly, L., & Morgan, M., Pandanus, 2006.
  • 'The Failure of the Alternative Vote as a Tool for Ethnic Moderation in Fiji: A Rejoinder to Horowitz', Comparative Political Studies, 39 (5), 2006, pp 663-666 (With Professor Bernard Grofman).
  • 'Beyond MIRAB: Do Aid and Remittances Crowd Out Export Growth in Pacific Micro-economies?', Asia Pacific Viewpoint, 47, (1), 2006, special issue – MIRAB Twenty Years On.
  • 'Problems of Institutional Design in the Pacific Islands', Journal of Pacific Studies, 29, (1), 2006, special issue drawing on papers from 2004 Port Vila conference (sole editor).
  • 'Political Culture, Representation and Electoral Systems in the Pacific Islands', Editors Introduction, Commonwealth and Comparative Politics, 43, (3), 2005, Special Issue on Pacific Electoral Systems (with Bernard Grofman, University of California - Irvine).
  • 'The Role of Ballot Chiefs (Matai Pälota) and Political Parties in Sämoa’s Shift to Universal Suffrage', Commonwealth and Comparative Politics, 43, (3), 2005, Special Issue on Pacific Electoral Systems (with Asofou So’o, National University of Samoa).
  • 'Redistricting via Coups and Constitutions; The Construction of Ethnically-Mixed Constituencies in Fiji 1970-2001', Journal of Pacific Studies, 28, (1), 2005
  • 'Myths of Pacific Terrorism', in Henderson, J., & Watson, G., Securing a Peaceful Pacific, Canterbury University Press, 2005.
  • 'South Pacific: Arc of Instability or Matrix of Discontent?', New Zealand in a Globalising World, (ed) Pettman, R., Victoria University Press, Wellington, 2005
  • The Manipulation of Custom; From Uprising to Intervention in the Solomon Islands, Victoria University Press & Pandanus Books, Wellington & Canberra, 2004
  • 'A Neo-Downsian Model of the Alternative Vote as a Mechanism for Mitigating Ethnic Conflict in Plural Societies', Public Choice, 121, 2004, pp487-506 – (with Professor Bernie Grofman, University of California)
  • '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

Media articles

  • 'Politics in Fiji: back into the Fold', The Economist, 19th September, 2014.
  • 'Reflections on the 2014 Election in Fiji', Fiji Times, 22nd September 2014.
  • 'Pooling Sovereignty? Australia and the Pacific Islands', Economist, Aug 1st 2014, ‘Nauru: Problems with Australia's “Pacific Solution”', The Economist, 1st February 2014.
  • 'Why Fiji’s Latest Electoral System Changed?' Islands Business, September 2013.
  • 'A Gathering of Pacific leaders worries about climate change', The Economist, 30th August 2013.
  • 'The Heat on Fiji’s Strongman', Dominion Post (Wellington), 14th August 2013.
  • 'Solomon Islands: a modestly successful decade of intervention', The Economist, 20th July 2013.
  • 'The Pacific’s colonies: Ends of Empire', The Economist, 25th May 2013.
  • 'Opportunity Blown: Constitutional Wrangles in Fiji', The Economist, 28th March 2013.


Teaching in 2020