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PAPEETE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse, May 29) – A weak referendum voter turnout in French Polynesia produced overwhelming support for a European Union draft constitution treaty, while voters in France torpedoed the treaty with a "no" vote of some 55 percent.

French Polynesia voters, who went to the polls Saturday, voted 72 percent in favor of the EU treaty, while 27 percent voted "no". However, the voter turnout was only 27 percent for French Polynesia’s 48 communes.

In France, where voters went to the polls on Sunday, voter turnout was more than 70 percent, according to polling institutions contacted by Agence France-Presse. But the result was a massive rejection of the proposed constitutional treaty, with some 55 percent of voters casting "no" votes, the polling institutions told AFP.

In Tahiti, Armelle Merceron spoke about the referendum results on behalf of the opposition pro-France Tahoeraa Huiraatira party led by former President Gaston Flosse. The party campaigned in favor of a "yes" vote, reflecting Flosse’s close relationship with French President Jacques Chirac and the party’s close relationship with France’s parliamentary majority party, the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP).

"We weren’t expecting an extraordinary result . . . (French) Polynesia is far from Europe," Ms. Merceron told RFO-Télé-Polynésie. She said the referendum results in France were basically due to "internal considerations in France".

Tahiti’s majority coalition, the Union for Democracy (UPLD), led by President Oscar Temaru did not take any public stand on the referendum. The UPLD announced instead that supporters were free to vote as they wished even though Temaru said recently in Paris that he personally supported a "yes" vote in the referendum.

The only UPLD member to take a public stand on the referendum was Hiro Tefaarere, who is also a member of Temaru’s pro-independence political party. Tefaarere, who was president (speaker) of the French Polynesia Assembly until mid-April, called for a "no" vote in the referendum.

May 31, 2005



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