Pro-independence forces triumph in French Polynesia elections

Image courtesy of Bangkok Post

Pro-independence parties have claimed victory in the recent elections on France’s Pacific territory of French Polynesia. According to results released, the Tavini Huiraatira party, led by the region’s former head, Oscar Temaru, won 44.3% of the votes in the second round, securing an absolute majority in the regional assembly. The party is now expected to nominate 53 year old Moetai Brotherson as the leader of the regional government.

The results give pro-independence groups the potential power to push French authorities towards negotiating a referendum on the area’s status. French Polynesia is situated well northeast of New Zealand and boasts a population of around 280,000. Brotherson has, however, emphasized that independence will not be immediate. “We are not going to be independent tomorrow or next week,” he said, adding that he has no problem working with the French state and does not expect this to change in the near future.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, who oversees the country’s overseas territories, acknowledged that Polynesians had “voted for change” and that the French government recognised their “democratic choice.” Nevertheless, the outcome represents a setback for the administration of President Emmanuel Macron as it seeks to assert France’s influence as a major power in the Pacific region by highlighting the strategic importance of its overseas territories.

To date, France has consistently refused to hold a referendum on the status of French Polynesia, and its other significant Pacific territory, New Caledonia, has seen independence repeatedly rejected in referendums. This election marks the first occasion on which pro-independence forces have gained an outright majority in French Polynesia’s government, having previously been constrained by tenuous alliances.

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French Polynesia is one of several French territories spanning the Caribbean and the Pacific, providing Paris with a worldwide presence unrivalled by any other European nation. The outcome of this election emerges amid the ongoing controversy surrounding an operation on Mayotte, a French island in the Indian Ocean, focused on clearing slums and curbing illegal immigration, reports Bangkok Post.

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With a Bachelor's Degree in English, Jenn has plenty of experience writing and editing on different topics. After spending many years teaching English in Thailand, Jenn has come to love writing about Thai culture and the experience of being an ex-pat in Thailand. During long holidays, she travels to North of Thailand just to have Khao Soi!

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