Les Kanaks en marche: A French Pacific territory gets a pro-independence government (The Economist – February 18, 2021)


Governments come and go in New Caledonia, a French territory of 270,000 in the south Pacific. There have been 16 since 1998, when the French government and local politicians signed the Nouméa Accord, a power-sharing deal that aimed to end violent agitation for independence.

The new government named this week, however, stands out. It is the first dominated by pro-independence parties, with six of 11 ministers. That, in turn, means New Caledonia should soon have its first indigenous and first pro-independence president.

The indigenous Kanaks, although the largest ethnic group, are less than half the population. (Europeans and migrants from other parts of the Pacific are most of the rest.)

In two successive referendums on independence, in 2018 and 2020, the islanders chose to remain part of France, although the outcome of the most recent ballot, in October, was a narrow 53%-47%. The territorial congress reflects the same division, with a loyalist coalition holding a slim majority.

The congress elects the 11 members of the government, although a proportional system means that both pro- and anti-independence forces are represented. Hitherto, the loyalists’ majority in the congress had allowed them to dominate the government, and thus control the presidency.

For the rest of this article: https://www.economist.com/asia/2021/02/18/a-french-pacific-territory-gets-a-pro-independence-government