Despite protests and a small voter turnout, this strategically important island will remain part of France.



France has been handed a victory in the third and final independence referendum on New Caledonia. ‘Loyalists’ ensured France won a decisive victory, albeit some commentators saw the success as hollow as the majority of indigenous voters, the Kanaks boycotted the Referendum. This article makes the following points:

The Noumea Accord, which all groups in New Caledonia had agreed to, required three referenda to be held.

The 2018 and 2020  referenda had resulted in a narrow win for those who wanted to remain part of France.

The third Referendum held per the Accord resulted in  96.49% of voters saying no to independence. 

The results are based on a voter turnout of just 43.9%, in contrast to 80%-plus turnouts in the two earlier votes.

Some commentators saw the Referendum as hollow as the Indigenous Kanak people boycotted this third Referendum. 

Kanak parties had urged a referendum postponement due to the COVID crisis in New Caledonia. 

The customary Kanak Senate had declared a mourning period of one year for the mainly indigenous victims of the COVID surge in September that had infected more than 12,000 people and caused 280 deaths.

French President Emmanuel Macron was criticised for pressing ahead with the vote, and critics are suggesting his insistence could damage him politically.

Another referendum is now likely in mid-2023 to determine the territory’s future status within France, but independence is now off the table.

Nickel mining and other significant reserves for manufacturing stainless steel, batteries and mobile phones and its maritime economic zone are important to France.

This Referendum allows France to remain an important  Indo-Pacific economic and military power.

France will continue to act as a counterbalance to growing Chinese influence among independent Pacific countries. 

See previous Runway posts on this topic:

Why New Caledonia's future is in limbo even though the overwhelming majority voted to stay with France

No’ vote in New Caledonia independence referendum a pyrrhic victory for loyalists

New Caledonia eyes final vote on independence



Dec 2021 The Conversation Why New Caledonia’s final independence vote could lead to instability and tarnish France’s image in the region

Dec 2021 Reuters New Caledonia rejects independence in final vote amid boycott

Dec 2021 NBC News New Caledonia votes to stay in France amid boycott by separatists

Dec 2021 The Guardian Empty polling stations and solemn streets: New Caledonia referendum—in pictures

Dec 2021 FT New Caledonia votes No to independence from France

Dec 2021   THE GUARDIAN Covid, mourning and the fear of violence: New Caledonia prepares for blighted independence vote 

Dec 2021 RNZ News Paris delighted at New Caledonia result, but Kanaks dismiss it 

Dec 2021 THE GUARDIAN Anti-independence ads accused of ‘profound racism’ against indigenous New Caledonians in court action