4 May 2013

Tahiti's Union of Democracy's Sabrina Birk quits politics

7:42 am on 4 May 2013

The youngest assembly member of French Polynesia's Union of Democracy when it came to power in 2004 is quitting politics.

Sabrina Birk declined to stand in this year's territorial election, saying she wants more time for her family and because she considers that no politician should serve more than two terms.

After last month's first round victory of the Tahoeraa Huiraatira, Gaston Flosse is poised to be returned to power this weekend.

Sabrina Birk says this is possible because the French judiciary is slow.

"After ten years, we still have Gaston Flosse presenting himself to elections. He has been condemned, but he is still able to present himself. He is not in jail, he is a free man, but we all know that he has taken money from our people, he's abused us, he's been corrupt. And all this is known publicly, but he's still free to present himself. So today, ten years after, there are many ways to explain how we arrived there, but I think one, our people are deceived, that we didn't manage to do the dreams that they were hoping for us to do. This has given us over the years a real bad image."

And at the same time, though, voters seem to flock or return back to Tahoeraa despite the apparent judicial problems that the Tahoeraa leader has.

Yes. There are many explanations. They might like the part that Flosse, he's like a hero for them. He can tell friends off when he's mad. The high commissioner is really scared of Flosse. So maybe they think, Let's get a real tough guy that's going to tell France what to do. Maybe they are dreaming and thinking that at the time when Flosse was in power there was Chirac and they had money like they want. I wouldn't say that they are all voting because they like Flosse. Some are voting for Flosse because they are scared, already scared now that if Flosse comes back to power they will not have jobs, they will not be able... If you are an enterprise, a businessman, you won't have any markets open to you because Flosse is all-powerful and we all know how he ruled like an octopus in this country. And so, as you noticed on the first tour election, there was very little joy, not at all like the Tahoeraa. And yet he had 50,000 votes, which is way over what the Tahoeraa was. There was no explosion of joy. In fact, it's a sad victory for the people because it's one where they feel like their dreams are taken away from them. It's like when you see a woman that's been battered by her husband and she has to go back to that husband, that means we have not managed to save this woman. She is going back to this husband because he feeds her, he gives her a house. But he's going to batter her. And women go back when you are uncapable of giving them their own independence. So this means our people, we have not managed to deliver them, they are not free. They are going back to Gaston Flosse not with joy, but sadly going back to him.

Sabrina Birk was speaking to Walter Zweifel.