10 May 2004

Rassemblement Party suffers set back in New Caledonian elections

10:52 am on 10 May 2004

New Caledonian voters dealt a major setback to the Rassemblement-UMP party of Jacques Lafleur in provincial elections today.

The weekend vote resulted in the pro-French party losing its relative majority in parliament.

According to figures released by the New Caledonian election commission, none of the parties achieved a majority in Congress.

Rassemblement's presence in the 54-seat body shrank from 24 to 16.

The elections were to pick 76 representatives for the three provinces of New Caledonia, of whom 54 also sit in Congress.

It then chooses delegates to a collegial government based on proportional representation.

The Rassemblement's defeat saw a corresponding advance for the party, Our Future Together, an alliance of Rassemblement dissidents and other opposition figures.

The news agency, AFP, won 16 seats.

The National Front's share remained unchanged with four seats, while the independent camp declined from 23 to 18.

Turnout in the poll was 76 per cent of the 120,000 registered voters.

The northern province and the Loyalty islands, New Caledonia's third province, where the majority of the population are indigenous Kanaks, backed the FLNKS.