Emmanuel Macron has just recorded a distant setback, which occurred 15,000 kilometers from the Élysée Palace, and it is not about pension reform. The autonomist Édouard Fritch, support of the head of state and outgoing president of the community of French Polynesia, lost the territorial elections in these overseas archipelagos, Sunday April 30. By granting 44.3% of the votes in the second round to the Tavini huiraatira party, the voters gave this independence movement an absolute majority of 38 of the 57 seats in the Territorial Assembly.
Supporters of independence had already won the three parliamentary seats allocated to Polynesia during the 2022 legislative elections. The three candidates (Moetai Brotherson, Tematai Le Gayic and Steve Chailloux) had been invested or supported by the New Ecological People’s Union and social (Nupes).
In Paris, the leaders of the left did not fail to note the new success of the camp of Oscar Temaru, figure of the current independence. Jean-Luc Mélenchon (LFI) was thus delighted that a “new era is beginning”.
Polynesia “needed a left alternative to fight against poverty and inequality”, also underlined Olivier Faure (PS). “Polynesians voted for change, reacted, for his part, Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin on Twitter. The government takes note of this democratic choice. We will work with the newly elected majority with commitment and rigor, to continue to improve the daily lives of our Polynesian fellow citizens. »
A government with broad powers
The separatists will manage for five years a territory populated by 280,000 inhabitants, with a local government endowed with broad powers. Even if they have already governed Polynesia through alliances between 2004 and 2013, this is the first time that they will have a solid majority. This puts them in a position of strength against the French state to negotiate the establishment of a self-determination referendum, a vote that France has always refused to organize in this overseas community.
The independence movement developed in French Polynesia from the 1970s and was embodied in the personality of Oscar Temaru, now 78 years old. In its profession of faith for the territorial elections, the Tavini huiraatira presented itself as “independence, peaceful, democrat and lover of his country and his people”. The document recalled that French Polynesia was re-inscribed in 2013 in the UN inventory of “non-self-governing territories”, after a first registration in 1946-1947.
The party must present the candidacy of moderate MP Moetai Brotherson, 51, for the post of president of the government on May 10. “We are not going to be independent tomorrow or next week,” assured the latter after his victory on the television channel TNTV. “I have no problem working with the state and that’s not going to change tomorrow,” continued the elected official.
The subject is all the more sensitive as the geostrategic stakes are important in this part of the world. Polynesia, like New Caledonia, allows France to claim the status of a regional power in the Indo-Pacific zone.