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Support to New Caledonian pro-independence parties grows in provincial elections


The pro-sovereignty bloc, headed by the Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front (FLNKS), wins 23 out of 54 seats, 5 more than in previous elections · It has regained representation in the South province · Next term should see progress in the implementation of the Nouméa Accord, which stipulates the holding of a self-determination referendum between 2014 and 2018.

New Caledonia, one of the last French colonies, held provincial elections last weekend. The French unionist right-wing parties turned out to be the winner, but elections have witnessed a moderate growth of pro-independence parties. 23 out of the 54 seats of the Congress of New Caledonia will now support sovereignty, compared to the 18 seats obtained in previous elections.

Within the pro-sovereignty bloc, the party obtaining most of popular support has been the Kanak and Socialist Liberation Front (FLNKS), the dominant force among the Kanak (the main indigenous people in New Caledonia) pro-independence movement, which gained 19 seats. The other 4 will be shared by the Labour Party (3 seats) and Kanak Socialist Liberation (LKS). As regards the unionist side, Rassemblement-UPM (RUMP) obtained 13 seats, United Caledonia, 10, and other smaller parties got 8. The National Front, representing far-right ideology, has lost its representation.

Pro-independence parties have displayed their strength in the North province, gaining 20 out of 22 seats at stake -Palika and Caledonian Union, members of the FLNKS won 9 and 8 seats, and 3 were obtained by the Labour Party. In the Loyauté Islands, the right wing unionist parties failed to get a single seat.

However, unionists got 36 seats out of 40 in the most populated area of the country, the South province. The pro-independence bloc won the remaining 4 seats after failing to get representation in previous elections.

In accordance with the electoral system in New Caledonia, results in provincial elections determine the composition of Congress, which proportionally elects a cabinet. Forming government, then, is a difficult task, given the political chasm between New Caledonian independence supporters and French conservative unionists. But it will turn out to be even more intricate considering the internal disputes within conservative pro-French ranks.

Implementing the Nouméa Accord
One of the main challenges for the future cabinet will be the implementation of the agreement between France, pro-independence forces and New Caledonian unionists, which laid the foundations for a self-governing New Caledonia and specifies that a referendum for self-determination should be held between 2014 and 2018. According to AFP, the outgoing unionist president Harold Martin (United Future, AE), has urged the rest of unionists parties to sign a "stability pact" and to respect the Nouméa Accord, but refused to come to an agreement with pro-sovereignty parties.

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