27 Mar 2006

French Polynesia opposition calls for changes to electoral system

10:09 am on 27 March 2006

The French Polynesian opposition wants to change the electoral system just two years after it was modified at its behest.

A senior politician of the Tahoeraa Huiraatira Party says he wants to raise the issue with the French overseas territories minister, Francois Baroin, when he arrives in Tahiti on his first official visit later this week.

The politician, Gaston Tong Sang, has told the Tahitipresse news agency that the party wants to abolish the provision that gives the winning party in an electorate a third of all seats as a bonus.

The bonus seat clause was first used in the 2004 territorial election and in a shock outcome, the Tahoeraa lost power because a rival coalition secured 13 additional assembly seats by coming first in the biggest constituency.

Mr Tong Sang says the bonus system obliges some parties to join forces on the same list but then deprives them of their freedom of expression.

He says the electoral system can be changed without modifying the autonomy statute which was also put into place in 2004.

The new electoral system was touted as a means to create stable majorities and introduced against the wishes of the parties now in power.