FRENCH POLYNESIA GEARS FOR NEW ELECTIONS

admin's picture

PAPEETE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse, Jan. 2) – Thirty-five lists of candidates have been filed for the Jan. 27 first round of voting for the 57 seats in the French Polynesia Assembly, with the winners of the Feb. 10 runoff voting due to choose Tahiti's next government president.

Among those 35 lists are three that did not exist for the last general elections in May 2004 that led to pro-independence party leader Oscar Temaru becoming French Polynesia government president for the first time.

Two of the lists filed by the noon Monday deadline at the French High Commission's Papeete office are for Here Ai'a candidates for the 37 Windward Islands seats and the three Austral Islands seats. The third list involves candidates from the Greens party for the three seats representing the Gambier Islands-East Tuamotu Archipelago.

In the 2004 election, those two parties were part of Temaru's Union for Democracy (UPLD) coalition, which also included his Tavini Huiraatira party and Jacquie Drollet's small pro-independence Ia Mana Te Nunaa party.

But recently, Georges Handerson, the current Temaru government's minister of development and the environment, was ousted as president of the Here Ai'a party. Handerson, however, claims he is still the party's rightful leader despite Gustave Taputu's victory in the party's recent presidential election.

While Handerson is still a member of the Temaru government, it remains to be seen whether the rest of the Here Ai'a party will continue to vote for UPLD candidates or for their party's candidates. The Here Ai'a party's new president, Taputu, heads up one of nine lists of candidates for the 37 Windward Islands seats.

Jacky Bryant of Bora Bora in the Leeward Islands, the leader of the Greens party, was part of the UPLD coalition in 2004, so there was no separate list of candidates for his party. But now his party has one of five lists of candidates for the Gambier-East Tuamotu electoral district.

That will match the Greens party against a UPLD list led by Michel Yip, the Temaru government's perliculture minister.

The French High Commission is due to announce on Thursday whether all of the 35 lists of candidates meet official requirements so that they can be included on the Jan. 27 ballot. Once the lists are validate and published in the "Journal Officiel", French Polynesia's official bulletin, the campaigning can officially begin next Monday.

However, unofficially, campaigning has been underway for the past two months, with the major parties crisscrossing the sprawling Tahiti and Her Islands on more than one occasion.

The historic and premature voting stems from a revised autonomy statute adopted late last year by the French Parliament. The French state described the reform measures as an attempt to restore political stability in French Polynesia after a general election, a by-election, five government presidents and four adopted censure motions since May 2004.

The upcoming general elections are historic because this will be the first time that two rounds of voting are held. They are premature because the five-year term for the 57 assembly seats originally was not due to end until May 2009.

Assuming that each of the 35 lists filed has the full number of candidates for each electoral voting district, the overall total number of candidates for the Jan. 27 first round of voting is 410. They are broken down as follows:

After the first round of voting on Jan. 27, the surviving lists are expected to form coalitions in an attempt to win a minimum 29-seat majority of seats in the second round of voting on Feb. 10. If no one ends up with a majority after the second round, more negotiating will be necessary to produce a coalition big enough to put a new president in office.

The historic two rounds of voting will focus primarily on the attempt by the leader of one political party and two political coalitions to return to the power that they experienced since the May 2004 general elections.

Temaru, 63, Tahiti's first-ever pro-independence government president, has served as government president three times since May 2004. He is the only leader his Tavini Huiraatira party has ever had.

Gaston Flosse, 76, who has been Tahiti's president more often than anyone else over the past 23 years that the post has existed, briefly served as president between October 2004 and February 2005. He is the only leader his pro-France, pro-Tahiti autonomy political party, Tahoera'a Huiraatira, has ever had.

Gaston Tong Sang, 58, the mayor of Bora Bora and a former official in Flosse's party, served as Tahiti's president during the first eight months of 2007. He has since quit Flosse's party and formed a pro-France, pro-Tahiti autonomy coalition, To Tatou Ai'a.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet

Add new comment