25 May 2004

Fetia Api holds balance of power after French Polynesia poll

2:43 pm on 25 May 2004

French Polynesia's Fetia Api party is expected to announce later today how it will use its one seat in the new parliament following yesterday's surprise election result.

The ruling Tahoeraa Huiraatira Party lost massive ground in the key Tahiti and Moorea electorate under a system that gives the winner of a constituency a 30 percent bonus.

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.

This means that the Fetia Api, which lost five of its six seats, can give the Tahoeraa Huiraatira a majority and allow Gaston Flosse to extend his 20 year rule.

The remaining seat has been won by Nicole Bouteau, who left the Tahoeraa to form a new party, No Oe E Te Nunaa.

After yesterday's setback, Mr Flosse has called for a referendum 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.

He says Mr Flosse's setback was caused by years of deals, waste and pharaonic projects.