Pacific News Minute: French Presidential Vote in French Polynesia Tantamount to Independence Vote

Feb 16, 2017

Oscar Temaru
Credit Wikimedia Commons

The stakes in April’s Presidential Election in France could include the country’s future in the European Union…one of the leading candidates, Marine Le Pen of the National Front, vows to hold a plebiscite on the issue if she wins…French Pacific Territories participate in the vote and, as we hear from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute, the stakes in French Polynesia could include independence.


At least, that’s what Oscar Temaru says. If he wins the most votes in French Polynesia in the first round of the French Presidential election, he says that’s tantamount to a unilateral declaration of independence. And, as the five time President of French Polynesia, he has to be taken seriously on the local level.


France annexed the Kingdom of Tahiti in 1880 and, like many European territories in the Pacific it was placed on the United Nations Decolonization list after World War Two. It was taken off the list in 1947. But over angry French protest, the UN General Assembly voted to put it back on in 2013. Temaru says that his presidential bid is designed to unite a divided people, but the dominant Tapura Hui raatira party opposes independence in general, and Temaru in particular.


To get on the Presidential ballot, Temaru needs the signatures of at least 500 elected politicians from at least 30 French Departments or Territories by March 17. He’s already got plenty of signatures, but from just 17 departments so far.


Campaigning in France this week, he described the decision to relocate nuclear tests from Algeria to French Polynesia in the 1960s as an act of nuclear racism. If the French consider Charles DeGaulle a hero, he said, Tahitians regard him as a criminal.