French Polynesia's assembly president Oscar Temaru says it is urgent that a referendum on the territory's independence be held.
Mr Temaru made the call after meeting a special French envoy canvassing views on a plan by Paris to change the electoral system before possible early general elections next year.
He says there has been political instability since 2004 when changes began to be imposed.
Mr Temaru has told RFO Radio that a democratic tenet is that the people should be allowed to decide.
Mr Temaru pointed to a vote in 1958 when he says pro-independence leader Pouvana a Oopa lacked the means to make his case.
France has removed French Polynesia from the UN list of territories to be decolonised and there is no provision for the time being for such a referendum to go ahead.