THE French government has hinted it will allow French Polynesia to hold an independence referendum after pro-independence parties won the majority of seats in its parliament.

Led by former French Polynesian president Oscar Temaru, the Tāvini Huiraʻatira (People’s Servant) party won 38 out of the territorial assembly’s 58 seats following the second round of voting on Sunday, April 30.

While the pro-independence party has previously served in coalition governments, this is the first time it has won an outright majority.

This places its soon-to-be-elected president – Moetai Brotherson – in a strong position to negotiate an independence referendum with the French government.

Since 2004, French Polynesia has been classified by the French government as an “overseas country inside the Republic”.

It has a local assembly and government yet many areas – such as justice, university education, and defence – remain reserved.

But the Interior Minister of France, Gerald Darmanin, issued a statement confirming that the French government “takes note” of the new political make-up of the assembly.

He said: “The Tāvini Huiraʻatira has won the territorial elections in French Polynesia and will have to elect the future president of the archipelago.

“With Jean-François Carenco, we congratulate Oscar Temaru and Moetai Brotherson for their victory.

“The Polynesians voted for change. The Government takes note of this democratic choice.

“We will work with the newly elected majority with commitment and rigour, to continue to improve the daily lives of our fellow Polynesian citizens.”

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The results suggest that current president, Edouard Fritch, paid the price for high inflation and the government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.

An economic reliance on tourism led the country to re-open its border early on during the pandemic.

A visit from President Macron in July 2021 attracted large crowds and became a superspreader event, overcrowding the main hospital and making French Polynesia the worst affected country in the Pacific by the end of the year.

Brotherson reportedly made little mention of independence during the campaign and instead focused on the abolition of an unpopular new VAT tax.

His party had already won the three seats allocated to the country in France’s legislative elections last year.