New Caledonia: violence over electoral reform

Protests have escalated in the French Pacific territory of New Caledonia and there have now been deaths, fires and looting. The protests erupted over plans for constitutional changes under which Paris would grant thousands of French residents who moved to the islands and have lived there for at least ten years the right to vote in regional elections. The indigenous Kanak people see this as a threat to their political influence.

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Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

More patience would have been wiser

The Süddeutsche Zeitung sees the French central government as partly to blame for the situation:

“There are old wounds from the colonial era that have never fully healed. The indigenous people still feel disadvantaged today. ... But they say that the electoral reform is tantamount to re-colonisation, because it gives many newcomers the right to vote who are more in favour of the status quo, i.e. remaining in France. President Emmanuel Macron made the issue prominent on his agenda, he forced the parliamentary procedure and thus conjured up old spirits. More patience and more dialogue would have been wiser, especially on an issue as historically charged as this one.”

Libération (FR) /

Innovative solutions always found in the past

Prime Minister Gabriel Attal should follow the example of his predecessors, the former Socialist MPs René Dosière and Jean-Jacques Urvoas urge in Libération:

“Michel Rocard, Lionel Jospin and Edouard Philippe responded to the challenges they faced by providing answers that averted potential dramas. They succeeded in finding innovative solutions that took account of the facts without being completely subjugated by it. Through their proposals and their ability to persuade others they demonstrated that the appropriate steps could only be taken if the state was fully involved. We are in an identical situation and this history compels us to act accordingly.”

Le Figaro (FR) /

France's global standing at stake

Le Figaro defends the government's plans:

“Without France, the standard of living of the island's population would have remained that of a poor country dependent on the fluctuations in nickel prices on the global market. ... So it's only logical that the unacceptable discrimination that denies [non-Kanak] natives and residents who arrived more than ten years ago the right to vote in provincial elections must stop. ... Nothing can justify this outbreak of violence. In the heart of the Indo-Pacific, between the Chinese ogre and Uncle Sam, French global influence is also at stake.”