New Caledonian independence referendum, 2018

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New Caledonian independence referendum, 2018
Do you want New Caledonia to attain full sovereignty and become independent?
LocationFlag of France.svg Flag of FLNKS.svg New Caledonia
Date4 November 2018
Results
Votes %
Yes 60,573 43.60%
No 78,361 56.40%
Valid votes 138,934 98.47%
Invalid or blank votes 2,165 1.53%
Total votes 141,099 100.00%
Registered voters/turnout 174,995 80.63%
Results by commune
Resultats par communes référendum Nouvelle Calédonie 2018.png
  Yes     No
Website: Referendum 2018
Emblem of New Caledonia.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
New Caledonia

An independence referendum was held in New Caledonia on 4 November 2018.[1][2] Voters were given the choice of remaining part of France or becoming an independent country.

Announced in the evening of polling day, the result was 56.4% for maintaining the status quo and 43.6% in favour of independence. The turnout was 81% of the 174,995 voters eligible to vote in this referendum.[3] Recent inhabitants who are registered to vote in general elections were ineligible to vote in the referendum, as agreed in the 1998 Nouméa Accord, representing 17% of the total of 210,105 registered voters of New Caledonia.

Prior to the vote, the government and authorities in Metropolitan France stated that they would recognise and abide by the results of the referendum. Despite the failure of the motion, New Caledonians will, under the terms of the Nouméa Accord, have the opportunity to vote again in 2020 and (if that vote fails as well) in 2022 if one third of the Congress of New Caledonia, the local legislature, agree to allow those votes to be held.[4]

Background

New Caledonia was formally annexed by France in 1853, and Europeans and Polynesians, as well as other settlers, have since made the indigenous Kanak people a minority (27%, 11% and 39% respectively in the 2014 census[5]). The territory was used as a penal colony from 1864 to 1897, and the Kanaks were "excluded from the French economy and from mining work, and ultimately confined to reservations". Between 1976 and 1988, conflicts between the French government and the independence movement saw periods of serious violence and disorder (culminating in the Ouvéa cave hostage taking in 1988), with the emerging Kanak independence movement gaining support from many Kanaks frustrated with their lower socio-economic status and lack of involvement in the economy, seen as problems caused by the French "exploitation". Though GDP per capita (nominal) is high at $38,921 and though New Caledonia is a major producer of nickel, there is significant inequality in income distribution, with many claiming that the mining revenue benefits people outside the territory and its (declining) mining communities.[6]

Since 1986, the United Nations Committee on Decolonization has included New Caledonia on the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories.[7] The 1987 New Caledonia independence referendum, the first referendum on independence, was held the following year on 13 September 1987, but independence was rejected by a large majority, with 842 people (1.7%) voting for independence and 48,611 people (98.3%) voting to remain a part of France. Many pro-independence groups, such as the Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front (FLNKS), boycotted the vote.[8] The participation was 59.10%.

The Matignon Agreements, signed on 26 June 1988, ensured a decade of stability. The Nouméa Accord signed 5 May 1998, set in motion a 20-year transition that transferred certain powers to the local government and laid the groundwork for an independence referendum in 2018.[9]

The Nouméa Accord stated a vote must take place by the end of 2018. On 2 November 2017, Édouard Philippe, the French Prime Minister, led a meeting to begin work on the referendum of independence, to be held by November 2018.[10] On 20 March 2018, it was announced that the independence referendum would be held on 4 November 2018.[11]

Vote restriction

In New Caledonia, there are three electoral rolls: 1 general roll for the Congress, French president and French Parliament consisting of all French citizens, one special roll for elections to the provincial assemblies, and one liste électorale spéciale (LESC, a special electoral roll for referendums).[12] To be registered on the LESC, voters had to fulfill at least one of the following conditions:

  1. Registration on the special electoral roll for the 1998 New Caledonian Nouméa Accord referendum (or fulfilled its requirements but not registered)
  2. Born in New Caledonia and registered in the special electoral list for the provinces (LESP)
  3. Residence in New Caledonia for a continuous period of 20 years
  4. Born before 1 January 1989 and lived in New Caledonia from 1988 to 1998
  5. Born after 1 January 1989 with a parent who was on the special electoral roll for the 1998 Nouméa Accord referendum (or who fulfilled its requirements but was not registered)
  6. Born in New Caledonia with three years' continuous residence (prior to 31 August 2018).

A total of 35,948 registered voters on the general list were thus excluded from the vote, equating to 17.11% out of a total of 210,105 registered voters on the general electoral roll.[13][14][15]

According to a statement made by the independentist party FLNKS on 18 September 2018, 63% of the 174,154 registered voters on the LESC were Kanak, for a total of 109,892; of these, 80,120 belonged to the droit coutumier (common law)[16] and 29,772 to the droit civil (civil law).[17][18] Vote restriction restricts the voting power of recent inhabitants— derogatively known as Zoreilles—and enlarges the voting power of native Kanaks, and was long sought after by FLNKS.[13]

Question

The question for the referendum was:

Voulez-vous que la Nouvelle-Calédonie accède à la pleine souveraineté et devienne indépendante ?[19]

English translation: "Do you want New Caledonia to attain full sovereignty and become independent?"

Opinion polls

Polling firm Fieldwork date Sample size For Against Undecided/
no opinion
Lead
Harris Interactive 12–22 Sep 2018 1,038 34 66 32
Quidnovi 1–15 Aug 2018 731 20 69 11 49
I-Scope 30 Jul–8 Aug 2018 628 28 63 9 35
Quidnovi 4–15 Jun 2018 739 15 65 21 50
Quidnovi 16–26 Apr 2018 712 15 58 27 43
I-Scope 16–25 Apr 2018 682 22.5 59.7 17.8 37.2
I-Scope 23 Mar–4 Apr 2017 514 24.4 54.2 21.4 29.8

Results

Vote share
Yes
43.6%
No
56.4%

Polling stations—a total of 284, distributed across all New Caledonia's communes—were open from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on 4 November. Voters were given pre-printed ballot papers marked OUI (yes) and NON (no) and instructed to indicate their choice by placing one of the two inside an envelope and depositing it in the ballot box.[20][21]

Provisional results issued that evening by the French government indicated that 56.4% of the votes cast were in favour of maintaining the territory's current status against 43.6% for independence: a tighter margin of victory than polling had forecast and commentators had expected.[22]

The turnout rate of over 80%, surpassing figures reported in both the 2014 election for the territorial Congress and the 2017 French presidential election,[23] was also described as "exceptional".[20]

Choice Votes %
For 60,573 43.6
Against 78,361 56.4
Invalid/blank votes 2,165
Total 141,099 100
Registered voters/turnout 174 995 80.6
Source: Government of New Caledonia

By province

Province For Against Registered
voters
Turnout
(percent)
Votes % Votes %
South Province 24,195 26.29 67,847 73.71 112,712 83.01
North Province 25,747 75.82 8,209 24.18 40,047 86.01
Loyalty Islands Province 10,631 82.18 2,305 17.82 22,236 58.89

Support for independence was highest in the North Province and in the Loyalty Islands, which have Kanak majorities (73.8 and 96.6% respectively in 2009) and lower population densities (5.3 and 9.2/km² in 2014, respectively) than South Province (29/km²).[24]

By commune

Referendum results in the 33 Communes[25]
Commune Yes No Blank Invalid Turnout
Bélep 94,45 % 5,55 % 0,00 % 0,57 % 76,85 %
Boulouparis 30,26 % 69,74 % 0,25 % 0,75 % 90,74 %
Bourail 30,91 % 69,09 % 0,49 % 0,95 % 88,51 %
Canala 93,42 % 6,58 % 0,60 % 1,03 % 85,57 %
Dumbéa 21,76 % 78,24 % 0,81 % 0,89 % 82,79 %
Farino 9,18 % 90,82 % 0,38 % 1,15 % 94,89 %
Hienghène 94,75 % 5,25 % 0,48 % 0,92 % 86,57 %
Houaïlou 83,90 % 16,10 % 0,58 % 1,02 % 82,39 %
Île des Pins 67,32 % 32,68 % 0,78 % 0,99 % 82,47 %
Kaala-Gomen 75,42 % 24,58 % 0,56 % 0,42 % 87,52 %
Koné 64,32 % 35,68 % 0,44 % 0,96 % 87,68 %
Kouaoua 73,54 % 26,46 % 0,84 % 0,52 % 84,28 %
Koumac 36,47 % 63,53 % 1,09 % 0,96 % 89,77 %
La Foa 29,96 % 70,04 % 0,61 % 0,95 % 91,39 %
Le Mont-Dore 28,20 % 71,80 % 0,97 % 1,35 % 83,61 %
Lifou 79,92 % 20,08 % 0,51 % 0,81 % 62,29 %
Maré 84,58 % 15,42 % 0,10 % 0,93 % 53,77 %
Moindou 44,49 % 55,51 % 0,73 % 0,73 % 91,30 %
Nouméa 19,49 % 80,51 % 0,90 % 0,55 % 80,29 %
Ouégoa 69,84 % 30,16 % 0,27 % 0,38 % 84,93 %
Ouvéa 84,18 % 15,82 % 0,31 % 0,92 % 59,40 %
Païta 25,90 % 74,10 % 0,92 % 0,79 % 85,62 %
Poindimié 79,26 % 20,74 % 0,67 % 0,93 % 87,92 %
Ponérihouen 79,64 % 20,36 % 0,93 % 0,93 % 85,68 %
Pouébo 94,25 % 5,75 % 0,05 % 0,53 % 80,86 %
Pouembout 46,53 % 53,47 % 0,82 % 1,07 % 88,07 %
Poum 83,67 % 16,33 % 0,87 % 0,78 % 84,33 %
Poya-Nord 64,16 % 35,84 % 0,39 % 0,72 % 86,56 %
Poya-Sud 2,05 % 97,95 % 0,00 % 0,68 % 92,45 %
Sarraméa 72,90 % 27,10 % 0,85 % 0,64 % 93,28 %
Thio 83,08 % 16,92 % 0,28 % 0,83 % 85,38 %
Touho 82,60 % 17,40 % 0,31 % 0,56 % 85,34 %
Voh 68,57 % 31,43 % 0,89 % 1,48 % 87,67 %
Yaté 88,23 % 11,77 % 0,06 % 0,52 % 89,89 %

Reactions

French President Emmanuel Macron, who had visited the island in May 2018, stated that the result showed "confidence in the French Republic".[3]

Aloisio Sako, a leading member of the independentist FLNKS and president of the Pacific Democratic Rally, a political party representing ethnic Wallians and Futunians in New Caledonia, was optimistic about what he saw as a narrow loss for his side, saying "We're a short step away from victory and there are still two votes to come".[26]

See also

References

  1. ^ PIR Editor. "New Caledonia, French Leaders Look To Finalize Plans For 2018 Referendum | Pacific Islands Report". www.pireport.org.
  2. ^ Willsher, Kim (19 March 2018). "New Caledonia sets date for independence referendum". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  3. ^ a b "French territory rejects independence". BBC News. 4 November 2018.
  4. ^ Lyons, Kate (16 July 2018). "New Caledonia Referendum: Call to Reject 'Colonising Power' France". The Guardian.
  5. ^ ISEE. "Prov2 – Principales caractéristiques des individus, par province de résidence et genre" (XLS). Retrieved 2015-08-24.
  6. ^ Lyons, Kate (17 July 2018). "New Caledonia referendum: call to reject 'colonising power' France". the Guardian.
  7. ^ The United Nations and Decolonization. "Trust and Non-Self-Governing Territories (1945-1999)". www.un.org.
  8. ^ Database and Search Engine for Direct Democracy. "Neukaledonien (Frankreich), 13. September 1987 : Unabhängigkeit / Verbleib bei Frankreich -- [in German]". www.sudd.ch (in German).
  9. ^ Aude Bariéty (4 October 2018). "Nouvelle-Calédonie : 5 questions sur le référendum de dimanche". FIGARO (in French).
  10. ^ Patrick Roger. "Nouvelle-Calédonie : ce que contient l'« accord politique » sur le référendum d'autodétermination". Le Monde.fr (in French).
  11. ^ Willsher, Kim (19 March 2018). "New Caledonia sets date for independence referendum". the Guardian.
  12. ^ l'Intérieur, Ministère de. "La liste spéciale pour le référendum (LESC) / Les électeurs / Référendum 2018 / Politiques publiques / Accueil - Les services de l'État en Nouvelle-Calédonie". www.nouvelle-caledonie.gouv.fr. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  13. ^ a b "Référendum en Nouvelle-Calédonie: pourquoi les «Zoreille» n'ont pas le droit de voter" (in French). Slate. 3 November 2018. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  14. ^ "Le corps électoral : la liste spéciale pour le référendum (LESC)" (in French). Government of New Caledonia. 27 August 2018. Retrieved 4 November 2018.
  15. ^ Scott Robertson. "The New Caledonian Referendum on Independence (Part 2): The Vote" (PDF). bellschool.anu.edu.au.
  16. ^ "Customs in New Caledonian law - LARJE". larje.unc.nc. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  17. ^ "New Caledonia Legal system - Government". www.indexmundi.com. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  18. ^ "Référendum en Nouvelle-Calédonie : Combien d'électeurs Kanak sur la liste électorale référendaire ? - Toute l'actualité des Outre-mer à 360° - Toute l'actualité des Outre-mer à 360°". Toute l'actualité des Outre-mer à 360°. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  19. ^ "Histoire & enjeux - Référendum NC 2018". www.referendum-nc.fr (in French).
  20. ^ a b "New Caledonia: High turnout in independence referendum". Al Jazeera. 4 November 2018. Retrieved 4 November 2018.
  21. ^ "Infos Vote". 2018 Référendum. Retrieved 4 November 2018.
  22. ^ "New Caledonia narrowly rejects independence from France in historic referendum". ABC News (Australia). 4 November 2018. Retrieved 4 November 2018.
  23. ^ "Nouvelle-Calédonie". Résultats de l'élection présidentielle 2017. Government of France: Ministry of the Interior. Retrieved 5 November 2018.
  24. ^ "les provinces de la Nouvelle CalÉdonie" (PDF). www.mncparis.fr (in French).
  25. ^ Ensemble des résultats provisoires validés par le haut-commissariat from the site of the High Commissioner of the Republic in New Caledonia
  26. ^ "New Caledonia referendum leaves independence movement hopeful". France 24. 5 November 2018. Retrieved 5 November 2018.