11 May 2009

Pro-independence parties make gains in New Caledonian elections

10:20 am on 11 May 2009

New Caledonia's pro-independence parties have made gains in yesterday's election of three provincial assemblies, but the dominant grouping in the next five years will still be the anti-independence camp.

54 of the 76 elected politicians will also sit in the territorial congress which will be charged with the drawing up of a referendum over the territorial future after 2014.

Walter Zweifel reports.

"The divisions of recent years among anti-independence parties have seen them weakened in the mainly Kanak northern and Loyalty islands provinces where they have all but vanished."

In contrast, after a five-year absence the pro-independence FLNKS is back in the assembly of the prosperous southern province.

The rifts on the right have seen the Rassemblement/UMP emerge as the biggest party but it will still only hold about a quarter of the seats in the territorial congress.

While the government has to be formed in proportion to the parties' strength in Congress, the election of a new president of New Caledonia will be less straighforward.

Harold Martin's Future Together Party has suffered from the recent split and he now commands about ten percent of the seats.