DP 2018/08 Exploring the Kanak Vote on the Eve of New Caledonia’s Independence Referendum

Discussion Paper

Author/s (editor/s):

Pierre-Christophe Pantz, Scott Robertson

Publication year:


Publication type:

Discussion paper

The referendum of self-determination in New Caledonia will take place on 4 November 2018. Sought by the pro-independence cause since the 1980s, successive political agreements —Matignon-Oudinot in 1988, then Noumea in 1998 — have pushed the referendum back 30 years. As the referendum approaches, the outcome remains uncertain. What is certain is that the indigenous Kanak population, which numbers some 40 per cent of the population, will play a major role in determining the outcome. This discussion paper identifies the key dynamics that characterise the Kanak vote and discusses the implications for the referendum result. This paper suggests that the referendum could see some differences among Kanak voters in comparison with previous election results. It also argues that the rate of participation/abstention among the Kanak will likely be a crucial factor in the referendum result.

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