Call for change to form of government in French Polynesia
Pro-independence party in French Polynesia wants federal system of government.
The pro-independence party in French Polynesia wants to change the form of government, now centred on Tahiti.
In part with an eye to the Federated States of Micronesia, the Tavini Huiraatira party of Oscar Temaru launched the idea of a federal system of government at its weekend Congress.
Walter Zweifel asked a senior Tavini politician and member of the French Senate, Richard Tuheiava, if there is any evidence that people want such a change.
RICHARD TUHEIAVA: It's required, of course, to get through a referendum, and for the people to choose a free association model over an independent model. It requires them right after the referendum to build up an institutional model, for example the same as the Federated States of Micronesia, with the exception that Micronesia is still tied to the United States of America. So we have to choose between free association or independence. But at the end of the day our goal now, our objective is to build a federated state for Maohi Nui. So, number one, an awareness campaign for the population to understand the stakes and the constraints, but also the benefits of that model, and then the referendum, and right after that a constitution to set the basis here for the federated states of Maohi Nui.
WALTER ZWEIFEL: Has there been any thought given to the potential costs of setting up such a system, which I believe must be more expensive than what is in place now?
RICHARD TUHEIAVA: Well, in terms of cost, if we keep the system that exists today, which is basically the unitary system where France has been operating since the beginning of the annexing of French Polynesia by France. It costs a lot more for France and for us to keep sustainable such a system by choosing another system that will our view be more light in terms of cost, but also will really reflect the geographical, but also the language and cultural differences between the archipelagos. And at the end of the day what we want is a system that will fit with the economic and social needs and realities amongst each archipelago. And we believe that a federal system will be more relevant. The second argument is that sharing power is really something that we need now, instead of being governed from the top, which is being governed by Paris. And sharing power is a system that we used to live with here in Polynesia. In federal government, governing different federated states is something that fits very much with our sharing power requirements.
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