The French assembly has approved a constitutional amendment which restricts voting rights in New Caledonia to long-term residents.
The ruling UMP Party was split on the proposal, but a majorty of MPs approved the change which now limits voting rights to those who have lived in New Caledonia since 1998.
This means French citizens who have arrived in the territory since then are not allowed to vote in the 2009 provincial elections.
The provision was in the 1998 Noumea Accord on greater autonomy but it was challenged in the constitutional court in France.
President Jacques Chirac had said the issue would be resolved before the end of his term next year.
The amendment will now go to the Senate for a vote next month before a joint session of both houses will be called.