18 Oct 2010

More electoral reform for French Polynesia

10:24 am on 18 October 2010

The French overseas territories minister, Marie-Luce Penchard, has outlined the key elements of the planned electoral reform to increase political stability in French Polynesia - the third such change by the French government since 2007.

Following last month's consultations with Tahiti's leaders in Paris, Mrs Penchard has told them in Papeete that the Society islands will form a single electorate with its own voting system which will be different from that of the other four archipelagoes.

She says taking into account recent population shifts, the Society Islands will get 42 seats while each of the other four constituencies will get two each, thereby reducing the size of assembly from 57 to 50 members.

Mrs Penchard says in future, a no-confidence motion will need the support of three fifths of the assembly to be adopted.

After her presentation, all key French Polynesian leaders strongly criticised the latest plan, saying it will add to the instability.

The law project is to be submitted to the French legislature before the end of the year, with Mrs Penchard not ruling out that this may lead to Paris calling early elections next year.

After the last change, the early elections called for 2008 produced a government that lasted only a few weeks into its five-year term.

There are no anti-party-hopping provisions despite the frequent changes of allegiance of many assembly members, with one of them this term switching sides twice in a day.