Pro-independence candidate wins in Martinique, does not want to change status quo (for now)

Alfred Marie-Jeanne defeats current president Serge Letchimy in unusual alliance with pro-French conservatives · Pro-independence party pledges to "respect the statutory framework" of the Caribbean island

Alfred Marie-Jeanne.
Alfred Marie-Jeanne. Author: Candidature Gran Samblé
Pro-independence leader Alfred Marie-Jeanne won on Sunday the election to the Assembly of Martinica, a Caribbean island belonging to France. But no way this signals the start of the road towards secession: Marie-Jeanne -the historic leader of the Martinican Independence Movement (MIM)- was running in an alliance with pro-French conservative candidate Yan Monplaisir (Les Republicans). Their joint goal: defeating outgoing president Serge Letchimy and implementing an "emergency plan" ahead of the "country's serious situation."

The deal led the Marie-Jeanne-Monplaisir joint list to garner 54% of the votes and 33 seats in the 51-member strong Assembly of Martinique. Letchimy, who was leading the Martinique pro-autonomy camp, achieved 46% of the votes and 18 seats.

According to an Institut Montaigne and Le Monde report, Martinique has an unemployment rate of 19% -higher than European France's but lower than other French overseas territories'- and suffers from a fragile economy after a deep economic and social crisis since 2009. However, the same report notes that several indicators are improving since 2014.

Under their agreement, Marie-Jeanne and Monplaisir have committed themselves to implement a "new economic model" in the island and to assist "social and economic recovery," as well as to "go back to a healthy and balanced management of pubic finances."

Marie-Jeanne's MIM has committed to "respect" Martinique's current "statutory framework." This means secessionists will not seek to establish an independent state over the 2015-2021 term: beyond that date, time will tell. The winning list says it will try to develop the potential of Martinique's new government body. Indeed, from January the Caribbean islands will be governed by a joint territorial collectivity, which means powers currently managed by the Regional Council and the General Council will be taken on by the new body.

This will be the second time that Marie-Jeanne, 79, will be leading the government of Martinique. The pro-independence politician led the Regional Council from 1998 to 2010 before being defeated by Letchimy.

Keywords: Martinican Independence Movement, Martinique