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  • French Polynesia
  • Lorenz Gonschor (bio)

Reviews of American Sāmoa, Cook Islands, Hawai'i, Niue, Tokelau, Tonga, and Tuvalu are not included in this issue.

During the period under review, political stability slightly improved as, for the first time in many years, no change in government took place and no attempt was made to overthrow the current one through a no-confidence motion. However, the severe economic crisis partly caused by years of instability continued, and no major changes in financial and economic policy to improve the situation appear to be in sight. On the other hand, there were significant advances in the international plea for the country's decolonization by the current government under President Oscar Temaru. At the end of the review period, a change of the executive government and legislative majority in France took place, with the prospect of a new deal in relations between Paris and Papeete in the near future. At the same time, a comeback of Gaston Flosse and his party is happening in local politics, as shown in their surprise win of the elections for local representatives in the French National Assembly.

With Temaru's coalition government of his own Union Pour La Démocratie (UPLD) and the outer islands party Te Mana O Te Mau Motu (TMMM) in power since April 2011, the review period started with controversies over two projects of the new government: a bill to reform the country's land legislation and a resolution to reinscribe the territory on the United Nations List of Non-Self-Governing Territories (NSGTS).

A bill for a loi de pays (country law, ie, an act of the French Polynesia Assembly with legal standing slightly lower than French national law) to regulate the acquisition of landed property by the country government in the case of a landowner dying without heirs met with strong negative reactions as soon as it was introduced in the assembly in mid-August. The bill's opponents—led by heir to the Tahitian royal family Teriihinoiatua Joinville Pomare, land rights activist Monil Tetuanui, and assembly members Sandra Manutahi Lévy-Agami and Sabrina Birk—accused Temaru's government of attempting to acquire private lands in order to resell them for profit (TP, 16 Aug, 19 Aug 2011). Despite reassurances by Vice President Antony Geros that the bill would not be less favorable to landowning families than the current legal situation (TP, 7 Aug 2011), the protests went on and eventually led to an indefinite postponement of the bill (TPM, Sept 2011), even though the issue later reemerged, with Pomare accusing the UPLD of "neo-colonialism" (DT, 2 Nov 2011).

The main focus of Temaru's government throughout the review period, however, was to pursue the country's [End Page 151] reinscription on the UN List of Non-Self-Governing Territories. For the last six decades, the absence of French Polynesia from that list, having been unilaterally removed by France in 1947, has represented a great anomaly in the Pacific, since virtually all other dependent territories in the Pacific have been listed.

On 18 August, after passionate debates, the assembly adopted a resolution asking the French president to reverse the removal of the territory from the list. The vote for the resolution was a historic moment in the country's history, since French Poly nesia's government now for the first time had received an explicit mandate to pursue decolonization on an international level. The decolonization issue had always been the fracture point in Temaru's earlier governing coalitions, since they included anti-independence politicians who accused Temaru of breaking assurances of neutrality on the independence question made in coalition agreements. This time, however, Temaru had made support for reinscription an explicit precondition for any coalition agreement, so it passed rather smoothly with support from all but one (who abstained) of the thirty-one member UPLD-TMMM majority (TP, 18 Aug 2011).

On the other hand, members of the three opposition caucuses—Tahoeraa Huiraatira (leader Gaston Flosse), To Tatou Aia (Gaston Tong Sang), and Ia Ora Te Fenua (Jean-Christophe Bouissou)—reacted with fierce hostility bordering on hysteria. Among other issues, opposition leaders argued that the resolution was not legitimate because...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9464
Print ISSN
1043-898X
Pages
pp. 151-165
Launched on MUSE
2013-03-27
Open Access
No
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