In brief

New Caledonia referendum “neither legitimate nor valid,” independence camp says

Turnout less than 44% · 96.5% of votes cast reject secession from France

Flag of New Caledonia.
Flag of New Caledonia. Author: FLNKS
Turnout in the independence referendum held yesterday in New Caledonia did not even reach half of the registered voters, after pro-independence parties and unions had called for a boycott. 96.5% of the votes cast were for rejection of secession from France.

Pro-independence parties had called for a postponement of the vote due to the effects of the covid pandemic. The parties argued that the indigenous Kanak population was in shock after many lives had been lost to the illness. The French government and the Council of State rejected the postponement.

While in the 2018 referendum turnout was 81.0% and in the 2020 referendum 85.7%, yesterday it stood at 43.9%. One figure explains almost everything: in 2020, pro-independence voters cast 71,533 votes for “yes”. Yesterday, the figure fell to 2,755. In predominantly pro-independence areas, virtually no one went to the polling stations.

Waiting for the next French government

In a statement, the Independence Strategic Committee, which brings together the main pro-independence parties and unions, said it did not recognize “neither the legitimacy nor the validity of this scrutiny” and announced that it would wait for the renewal of the French government to start real talks on the country’s access to full sovereignty.”

French legislative elections are scheduled for June 2022.

What will happen now is still unknown. Within 18 months, the French government seeks to close an agreement for a new way to integrate New Caledonia within the French Republic, as the the current system of self-government is transitory. Pro-independence parties say they do not recognize that schedule.