11 Feb 2008

Voters in French Polyesia go to polls today in second round of general election

6:34 am on 11 February 2008

Voters in French Polynesia go to the polls today in the second round of an early general election to choose a 57-member assembly for five years.

54 seats are at stake today after three were decided in the first round two weeks ago.

The 2004 election ushered in unprecedented instability which France now hopes to bring to an end.

Walter Zweifel reports from Papeete.

"A new electoral system is now in use which produced a surprise winner of the first round the newly-formed To Tatou Aia coalition of Gaston Tong Sang. The eight-party group is aiming to win at least another 14 percent of the votes to have an absolute majority."

The Union For Democracy led by Oscar Temaru has been campaigning for Tahitiâ's sovereignty, but unless it can add another 50 percent to its last score, the movement is bound to return to its traditional role of opposition.

Should neither side achieve its goal, the balance of power will rest with the once dominant Tahoeraa Huiraatira of Gaston Flosse."