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PAPE‘ETE, French Polynesia (Dec. 15, 2000 – Oceania Flash/SPC)---The French Senate in Paris has given final approval for an increase in the number of seats in French Polynesia's Territorial Assembly, the local government said on Thursday in a news release.

Earlier this month, France's lower House, the National Assembly, endorsed the change after a joint committee consisting of seven members of the French National Assembly and seven Senators (upper house) ruled on a plan promoted by opposition MP Emile Vernaudon to increase the number of seats.

Vernaudon said the change was justified by French Polynesia's population changes.

He also wanted to reduce representation from the outer islands to benefit the more populous Windward group (where the main island of Tahiti is located).

The committee members, however, found a compromise by increasing the number of territorial MPs from 41 to 49 and retaining most outer island seats.

All of the eight new seat are devoted to the Windward group, which also gets two more seats, taken from the Leeward and Tuamotu groups.

While the number of seats allocated to the Windward group is raised from 22 to 32, the other groups remain relatively stable in terms of parliamentary representation: Leeward islands 7 (-1), Tuamotu islands 4 (-1), Austral islands 3 (unchanged) and Marquesas islands 3 (unchanged).

Flosse, who is a member of the French Senate, voted against the bill in order to protest what he termed a "slaughter" of the remote archipelagos of the French territory (Marquesas, Leeward, Tuamotu-Gambier and Austral groups of islands).

However, he said he was "very satisfied on the whole" over the parliamentary committee's ruling, but regretted two seats had been "stolen" from the Leeward and Tuamotu groups.

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