New Caledonia elections reaffirm divisions

Philippe Gomes is a happy man. His anti-independence party Calédonie Ensemble has done well in New Caledonia’s elections, gaining more seats than the conservative RassemblementUMP (RUMP) Party that has long dominated New Caledonian politics. In the 11 May vote for three provincial assemblies and national Congress, Calédonie Ensemble (CE) improved its vote over two major conservative rivals.

The result for CE is the latest in a series of defeats for the previously dominant RUMP, which suffered a major split last year, leading to the creation of the breakaway Union pour la Calédonie dans la France (UCF). In a post-election interview with Islands Business, Gomes stressed that his party’s victory in the Southern province comes at a crucial time, as New Caledonia moves to a decision on its future political status.

“We are entering into a special period – the exit from the Noumea Accord,” he said. “We must negotiate with the independence movement and prepare for a referendum. Facing supporters of independence like Paul Neaoutyine and Roch Wamytan, I think that New Caledonians wanted someone solid. They decided that that person is me, instead of the Rassemblement.”

While stressing the importance of maintaining ties with France, Gomes distinguished his party from the other pro-French coalitions: “I think that we’re more nationalist, even though we don’t support independence. We want New Caledonia to remain within the French Republic, but also that we should govern ourselves. That’s the difference between us and other pro-French parties that have remained very strongly dependent on France. France is 22,000 kilometres away!” nya spelsidor som du bara måste prova under 2019

Stressing his support across Noumea and the Southern province, Gomes noted: “Even those people who normally don’t agree with my economic and social policies, they now say, ‘Gomes, he’s more certain’. In the southern suburbs of Noumea – the posh suburbs that have never voted for me before – this time, I won in all those suburbs.”

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