|"Keeping the peace" ... French police in Noumea for the third and final
referendum yesterday. IMAGE: Caledonia TV screenshot APR
ANALYSIS: By DAVID ROBIE
“Loyalist” New Caledonians handed France the decisive victory in the third and final referendum on independence it wanted in Sunday’s vote.
But it was a hollow victory, with pro-independence Kanaks delivering Paris a massive rebuke for its three-decade decolonisation strategy.
The referendum is likely to be seen as a failure, a capture of the vote by settlers without the meaningful participation of the Indigenous Kanak people. Pacific nations are unlikely to accept this disenfranchising of Indigenous self-determination.
In the final results on Sunday night, 96.49 per cent said “non” to independence and just 3.51 per cent “oui”. This was a dramatic reversal of the narrow defeats in the two previous plebiscites in 2018 and 2020.
However, the negative vote in this final round was based on 43.9 per cent turnout, in contrast to record 80 per cent-plus turnouts in the two earlier votes. This casts the legitimacy of the vote in doubt, and is likely to inflame tensions.