New Caledonia independence referendum, 4 November 2018

Author (Person)
Publication Date 05/11/2018
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Voters in New Caledonia rejected independence for the Pacific archipelago in a referendum on 4 November 2018, with over 56% choosing to keep ties with the mainland while 43.6% voted to leave.This was the outcome of a 30 years-long process of gradual decolonisation.

Some 175,000 people were eligible to vote, with officials reporting turnout at 81%.

The landmark referendum had been promised as part of a deal signed in 1988 to end a violent campaign by separatists from the indigenous Kanak people.

Further information:

Tensions have long run deep between pro-independence indigenous Kanaks and descendants of colonial settlers who remain loyal to Paris. Tensions boiled over into ethnic violence in the 1980s, claiming the lives of more than 70 people. The unrest ultimately led to the Nouméa Accord, which paved the way for this referendum.

The remote islands receive about €1.3bn (£1.1bn; $1.5bn) from the French government every year. Nickel deposits as its economic pillar are estimated to represent 25% of the world’s total. It enjoys a large degree of autonomy but depends heavily on France for matters such as defence and education. Its position gives France a foothold in the Indo-Pacific region.

Related Links
Centre on Constitutional Change: The New Caledonian Independence Referendum
Chatham House: New Caledonia’s time to decide
ElectionGuide: Territory of New Caledonia and Dependencies
BBC News, 05.11.18: New Caledonia: French Pacific territory rejects independence
The Guardian, 04.11.18: New Caledonia votes 'non' to independence from France
France 24, 05.11.18: New Caledonia referendum leaves independence movement hopeful
France 24, 04.11.18: Pacific territory of New Caledonia rejects independence from France
France 24, 04.11.18: High turnout as French Pacific territory votes on independence

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