A year out from New Caledonia’s independence referendum, it is still unclear who will be allowed to vote. A similar referendum was held during the tumultuous 1980s but the indigenous people boycotted it, which exacerbated tensions between the Kanaks and French loyalists. Since then two major accords between the rival camps have stabilised the political scene, with the 1998 Noumea Accord providing the decolonisation roadmap to next year’s vote. Challenges to finalise the electoral roll remain, which legal scholar Mathias Chauchat is watching closely.
“The problem is that a large part of the Kanak population is not enrolled. They represent 22,000 people out of 92000 – which is substantial,” he said.
Mathias Chauchat is a professor of Public Law at the University of New Caledonia and an expert on the legal and constitutional complexities which govern the French territory’s electorate.