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New Caledonia

Why New Caledonians snubbed French elections

There was a record low voter turnout in New Caledonia as France and its territories voted in President Emmanuel Macron again.

Macron topped the poll in every constituency in New Caledonia, however only 34.79 per cent of total voters turned up to cast.

According to reports coming from New Caledonia, there were calls from political parties not to vote. These parties are pro-independence and
want New Caledonia to be a sovereign state. Trade unions also joined in this call to not vote.

pacific new caledonia
Young Kanaks during the third referendum in December 2021. Picture: Asia Pacific Report

PACNEWS reported that the Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front (FLNKS) spokesperson Daniel Goa said: “It is an internal election in France, and this choice is for the French people alone. We tell our activists not to vote.”

Neither Macron nor had presidential candidate Marine Le Pen been leaning towards independence of New Caledonia.

Independence groups such as the Comité stratégique des indépendantistes (CSI), the FLNKS independence movement, the Parti travailliste (Labour Party), Dynamik unitaire Sud and the USTKE trade union confederation all joined in the calls for the boycott.

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More than anything, the indigenous Kanak are not happy with the way independence referendums have been brought out in the past. The last one in December 2021 was largely boycotted.

This has allowed the anti-independence groups in New Caledonia to win the referendum.

Another group Dynamik unitaire Sud (DUS) stated: “We accept without hesitation the call to hold the line against the extreme Right. Despite this, voting for Emmanuel Macron means approving the phony referendum of December 12 that the outgoing president stubbornly organised, in defiance of the Kanak people.”

French President Emmanuel Macron
French President Emmanuel Macron. Picture: Twitter

Many Pacific island leaders had also written to Macron to delay the referendum but this went ahead anyway.

On December 13 2021, Macron made it clear that New Caledonia will remain French, after a majority of voters in the French overseas territory voted against independence in a third and final referendum.

While this may have been the major reason for the low voter turnout in New Caledonia, non-compulsory voting also allowed many with no political sidings to stay away from the votes as well.

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