25 May 2004

Ruling French Polynesia Party has lost its absolute majority in assembly elections

8:27 am on 25 May 2004

The French Polynesian president's ruling Tahoeraa Huiraatira Party has lost its absolute majority in elections for a territorial assembly.

Gaston Flosse's party lost massive ground in the key Tahiti and Moorea electorate under a system that gives the winner of an electoral area a 30 percent bonus of seats.

It has now 28 seats in the 57-member parliament with 27 seats going to a group largely made up of the pro-independence Tavini Huiraatira party.

One seat has been won by the Fetia Api and one by Nicole Bouteau, who left the Tahoeraa to form a new party, No Oe E Te Nunaa.

Mr Flosse says he has no regret in calling an early election which he was widely tipped to win.

He now says a referendum should be held on self determination, but warns that independence could lead the territory to misery, dictatorship and coups as it has been seen in Fiji in recent years.

The Tavini leader, Oscar Temaru, says the priority for his party over the next five years is to improve the economy.