Pacific / New Caledonia

New Caledonian parties unveil new front against independence

15:15 pm on 13 December 2019

Six anti-independence parties in New Caledonia, including the National Rally, have unveiled a new front in a bid to avert independence from France in next year's referendum.

Sonia Backes, who is the leader of the largest bloc in Congress. Photo: Facebook

This new alliance also includes the newly-formed Generation NC.

Sonia Backes, who is the leader of the largest bloc in Congress, the Future with Confidence, said after last year's referendum they woke up with a hangover which she said they did not want to have next year.

Just under 57 percent voted for the status quo, defying all polls which predicted at least 70 percent rejection of independence.

President Thierry Santa said next year's rejection had to be more forceful in order to stave off a third independence referendum in 2022.

The leaders of this cross-party grouping say no vote may be lost and efforts have to be made to mobilise the estimated 17,000 people in the Noumea area, who abstained last year.

The French National Rally leader, Marine Le Pen, has a strong following in New Caledonia, where she won more than 47 percent of the vote when she ran against Emmanuel Macron in the presidential election.

Leader of France's far-right political party Marine Le Pen. Photo: AFP

The once dominant anti-independence party, Caledonia Together, is not joining the new informal grouping.

It disagrees over the vision of New Caledonia's institutional future after Ms Backes recently suggested a strengthening of the provinces, which some view as a prelude to partition.

Another anti-independence politician and New Caledonis's member of the French Senate, Pierre Frogier, proposed doing away with the New Caledonian government and allowing the three provinces to deal with Paris directly.

He argued that there were deep divisions and neither side would accept the outcome of the referendums provided under the Noumea Accord.