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French Pacific elections support Macron despite drop in voter turnout

Friday 29 April 2022 | Written by RNZ | Published in French Polynesia, Regional


French Pacific elections support Macron despite drop in voter turnout
Emmanuel Macron is the first leader in 20 years to be re-elected Photo: AFP/ Frederic Petry / Hans Lucas

The Pacific French territories have shown their support for Emmanuel Macron at the polls. However, the territories' voter turnout has been lower than usual.

Macron captured 61 percent of New Caledonian votes overall, while far-right candidate Marine Le Pen scored 39 percent.

Across New Caledonia's provinces, Macron took 75 percent of the votes in Loyalty Island, 61 percent in the South, and 64 percent in the North.

Voter turnout varied across the provinces with the South recording the biggest turnout, 44 percent. In contrast, the North only recorded 15 percent and the Loyalty Islands a mere 5 percent.

The low turnout in the North and Loyalty Islands may be the result of the high numbers of pro-independence supporters in those electorates.

Pro-independence voters may have boycotted this election, as they did the final independence referendum in December 2021.

This year, during the first round of the presidential election, pro-independence leaders urged supporters to back left-wing candidates, over Macron or any perceived right-wingers.

Pro-independence leaders also urged supporters to boycott the second round of the presidential election.

In French Polynesia, the election results were more polarised between Le Pen and Macron.

French far-right Rassemblement National (RN) party Member of Parliament and presidential candidate Marine Le Pen speaks during a campaign rally in Perpignan, southern France, on April 7, 2022.
Photo: AFP

Macron won 51 percent of the territory's total votes which equated to 31 out of 48 districts.

Marine Le Pen's total voters were only 3000 less than Macron; she won 48 percent of the overall vote and 17 districts.

Figures show Le Pen going from 12,000 votes for the first round to 28,000 votes in the second round. She obtained the majority of votes in several districts of the island of Tahiti.

French President Emmanuel Macron and French Polynesian President Edouard Fritch

French President Emmanuel Macron and French Polynesian President Edouard Fritch Photo: supplied

The highest voter turnout was recorded in the Marquesas Islands, Gambier Islands, and Tuamotu Islands. Hikueru Atoll recorded an 85 percent turnout.

Mayor of the district of Faa'a, Oscar Manutahi Temaru, said many voters he spoke to, including police officers and teachers, were not voting for Macron.

In contrast, Wallis and Futuna voters were extremely supportive of Macron. The President won 67 percent of the vote, while 32 percent voted for Le Pen.

- La Premiere