23 May 2007

Union leader in New Caledonia confident of pro-independence win ahead of vote

9:27 am on 23 May 2007

A union leader in New Caledonia is quietly confident the territory will have a pro-independence representative in France after next month's elections.

There is widespread division in the territory's pro-French camp ahead of the vote, which will elect members for the two seats that are set aside for New Caledonia in France's lower house.

Rifts within the ruling Future Together Party and the Rassemblement party have seen break-away candidates standing against their former colleagues.

Pierre Chauvat, a Kanak union leader from the pro-independence USTKE union, says in the territory's northern electorate, the loyalists could be beaten for the first time in years.

"Things are changing. And the campaign of the right-wing candidates saying that without France independence is not possible, it's not viable, you know, it's no longer a very good thing to say. Because we are going through an emancipation, sooner or later."

Pierre Chauvat.

Meanwhile, a pro-France candidate, Didier Leroux, says the loyalists still have the edge.