An election (illustration). - POL EMILE / SIPA

After having had consequences on the dates of the municipal elections, the coronavirus upset another electoral calendar: that concerning the referendum on the independence of New Caledonia. Initially scheduled for September 6, Edouard Philippe proposed Saturday to postpone this poll to October 4, due to the logistical difficulties arising from the health crisis.

“Risk on the supervision of voting procedures”

The Prime Minister therefore transmitted a draft decree with this new date to the presidents of the government and of the congress of New Caledonia for advisory opinion within 15 days. The text should be presented to the Council of Ministers in the second half of June, the State fixing the date of the referendum.

Even if "the operations for the preparation of the referendum were continued" during the health crisis, "a risk remains on the framing of the voting procedures," explains Matignon. For the executive, "the ability to gather 250 applications for national and international observers, and to forward them to New Caledonia within deadlines compatible with the three weeks of quarantine required to date […] is not guaranteed" .

In letters to the president of the government, the loyalist Thierry Santa (Avenir en Confiance, close to the Republicans), and to the president of the Congress, the independent Kanak Rock Wamytan (UC-FLNKS), the Prime Minister underlines that this difficulty of arriving within deadlines compatible with quarantine also arises for "the missions of international organizations and journalists" led to follow the referendum. It is a question of "ensuring the irreproachable character of the organization of the referendum, so that its result is incontestable and uncontested", he argues.

Progressive decolonization

After the first referendum, which was held on November 4, 2018 and saw the victory of the “no” to independence (56.7%), the date of a second referendum had been set by the Prime Minister at 6 September 2020, less than two years after the first, as provided for by the Noumea agreement which organizes the gradual decolonization of the archipelago. A highly sensitive subject, this date was decided after long hours of discussions between independence and non-independence leaders last October.


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How New Caledonia has weathered and could emerge stronger from the coronavirus epidemic

  • Coronavirus
  • Elections
  • Video
  • Edouard Philippe
  • New Caledonia
  • Referendum
  • Independence referendum