24 Apr 2017

High rates of abstention in French Pacific territories

6:19 pm on 24 April 2017

The French Pacific territories had some of the highest rates of abstention in today's presidential elections.

Voters cast their ballots at a polling station in Tahiti for the French presidential election. Voters in French Polynesia voted in favour of centre-right candidate Francois Fillon.

Voters cast their ballots at a polling station in Tahiti for the French presidential election. Voters in French Polynesia voted in favour of centre-right candidate Francois Fillon. Photo: AFP

In French Polynesia, 61 percent of voters abstained, while 51 percent of voters in New Caledonia did so.

Pro-independence movements in both territories had encouraged abstention as a sign of steering away from France.

Those who did vote defied the trend in mainland France by voting for the centre-right's Francois Fillon, who failed to qualify for the runoff election in two weeks.

Far-right candidate Marine Le Pen came a close second in both French Polynesia and New Caledonia, while centrist candidate Emmanuel Macron was third, winning less than 15 percent of the vote.

In Tahiti, the score was noticeable because none of the main parties had supported Mr Fillon when the campaign to succeed Francois Hollande was launched last year.

Ms Le Pen did particularly well in the Noumea area.

Centrist Emmanuel Macron and Front National leader Marine Le Pen

Centrist Emmanuel Macron and Front National leader Marine Le Pen Photo: AFP

The next president - who will either me Mr Macron or far-right candidate Ms Le Pen - will oversee an independence referendum in New Caledonia.

In Wallis and Futuna the abstention rate was 36 percent, while Mr Macron won the most votes and Ms Le Pen came a distant fourth.

Turnout was down over 2012 and in Tahiti - at under 39 percent - at a record low.

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