27 May 2019

Low turnout in French territories for EU elections

11:30 am on 27 May 2019
Ballot box used for New Caledonia's independence referendum

Ballot box used for New Caledonia's independence referendum Photo: RNZ Walter Zweifel

France's ruling En Marche party has come first in the European parliamentary elections in French Polynesia and in Wallis and Futuna.

However in New Caledonia, the National Rally of Marine Le Pen dominated, reflecting her movement's popularity in the southern province already seen in the 2017 presidential election.

In French Polynesia, voters heeded President Edouard Fritch's call to vote for En Marche, which won more than 43 percent of the vote.

The National Rally came second with 16 percent, but its candidate Eric Minardi is high enough on the party list to be the only French Polynesian candidate with a chance to win a seat.

Turnout was 22 percent.

There was a large number of invalid votes, believed to be linked to a call by the pro-independence camp to slip in a ballot paper saying "I love Maohi Nui."

In Wallis and Futuna, the ruling party won 37 percent of the vote.

In New Caledonia, the National Rally list won just under 27 percent, nine percent more than En Marche.

Observers say the National Rally surge may be linked to last week's Congress vote which defied expectations and saw a pro-independence politician Roch Wamytan win the Congress presidency.

This has fuelled speculation of a repeat outcome in next month's election of a new government and give the pro-independence for the first time the presidency.