14 Feb 2005

Polls have opened in French Polynesia in by-election for 37 seats

7:07 am on 14 February 2005

Police in French Polynesia are on maximum alert as voters in the biggest electorate go to the polls today, in a by-election to choose 37 members for the 57-strong assembly.

Seven lists are contesting the by-election, which was called in November when the French Supreme Court partly annulled the general election result, because of serious irregularities.

Walter Zweifel reports.

"13 seats will automatically go to the winning list under the territory's controversial electoral system, with the remaining 24 seats being divided up in proportion of the vote the parties win. And by law, all lists alternate men and women candidates. All top leaders, such as Gaston Flosse and Oscar Temaru, are set to retake their seats but uncertainty prevails in what form of political configuration will emerge. Only one scenario provides for a strong majority, and that involves a victory of Mr Flosse's Tahoeraa Huiraatira Party because it already has 17 of the 20 seats that were not cancelled last year. Results are expected within hours of the polls closing."