In brief

New Caledonia’s second independence referendum to be held 6 September 2020

Secession was rejected in 2018 with 56% of the votes

Pro-independence party FLNKS holds campaign rally in 2018.
Pro-independence party FLNKS holds campaign rally in 2018. Author: Union Calédonienne
New Caledonia’s second independence referendum will take place 6 September 2020, following a decision by French Prime Minister Édouard Phillippe. The date is halfway between the preferences of the unionist camp —which sought that the vote was held as soon as possible— and the pro-independence camp, which wanted to delay it until the end of the year.

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.