25 May 2017

Call for loosening New Caledonia voter eligibility

2:28 pm on 25 May 2017

There has been a call in New Caledonia to loosen the eligibility criteria for voters in local elections.

Campaigning is underway for next month's French National Assembly election, and one candidate Sonia Backes said the poll would be the last one open to everybody before the independence referendum due in 2018.

According to the local newspaper Les Nouvelles caledoniennes, Ms Backes was calling on voters at a meeting in Noumea to push for the strongest rejection of independence.

Residential areas in Noumea, New Caledonia south of the city. 2008

Residential areas in Noumea, New Caledonia south of the city. 2008 Photo: MARC LE CHELARD / AFP

Ms Backes, who is a former minister and now Congress member of the anti-independence Republicans, said if there was a loyalist victory, the voting rights should be changed for the 2019 provincial elections.

She said French citizens moving to New Caledonia should be allowed to vote after five years of residence, and anyone born in the territory should automatically be qualified.

Currently voting is restricted to those enlisted in 1998 in line with provisions of the Noumea Accord on greater autonomy.