French Polynesia votes for pro-independence bloc in historic elections

Pro-independence parties lead by former French Polynesian President Oscar Temaru won the second round of territorial elections on Sunday, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin announced on Twitter.

According to provisional results, the independents have obtained an absolute majority of 38 of the 57 seats in the Territorial Assembly which will allow them to govern for five years the South Pacific community.

This victory puts them in a strong position to negotiate a decolonisation process and a referendum on independence with the French government.

“The Polynesians have voted for change. The government takes note of this democratic choice,” Darmanin reacted on Twitter. 

“We will work with the newly elected majority with commitment and rigour, to continue to improve the daily lives of our Polynesian citizens.

Pro-independence Tavini party supporters cheer after their victory following the second round of the territorial elections, at party HQ, Faa’a, Tahiti, 30 April 2023

Winners benefit from first round support

Oscar Temaru’s Tavini huiraatira party, which is due to present MP Moetai Brotherson as president of the future government on 10 May, benefited from a large proportion of the votes carried over from the parties eliminated in the first round of voting on 16 April, all of whom campaigned against the outgoing president.

Clearly defeated, Edouard Fritch, 71, is first of all paying the price of his government’s poor communication during the COVID epidemic.

Despite a rather positive economic record, the high inflation suffered by Polynesia in 2022 (8.5%) was also blamed on him by part of the public opinion, because he introduced a new VAT to preserve local social security.

Moetai Brotherson, 51, campaigned on the abolition of this tax and more generally on purchasing power. 

He made little mention of independence and was able to appeal beyond this electorate, capitalising on the rejection of Edouard Fritch.

The pro-independence party had already won the three seats allocated to Polynesia in France’s June 2022 legislative elections.

The current voting system in Polynesia was set up in 2013, to put an ed to the political instability which had plagued the territory since 2004.

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