The first referendum took place 4 November 4 2018. Independence was rejected, with 56.4% of the votes. The result was somewhat of a surprise, as forecasts pointed to a larger “no” win, possibly with 60% to 70% of the votes.
The Nouméa Accord allows that, after the holding of the first referendum, one third of the New Caledonian Congress members —the semi-autonomous Parliament of the Pacific French territory— can force the calling of a further two votes if the previous ones result in rejection of independence.
The first possible date to call again the vote was 2020. If “no” again wins, a third referendum can be held in 2022.
Unionist parties believe that a larger share of voters will reject independence in 2020, leaving the independence issue buried. But pro-independence parties, on the other hand, say that within 10 months they can close the gap and secure a “yes” win.