Tahitian voters go to polls for crucial run-off territorial election

Tahitians cast their votes in the second round of the French Polynesian territorial elections
Tahitians cast their votes in the second round of the French Polynesian territorial elections. Image: RNZ Pacific/Suliane Favennec/AFP

RNZ Pacific

Voting has started in French Polynesia in the second round to elect a new Territorial Assembly for a five-year term.

About 200,000 voters can choose among three lists of candidates vying for the assembly’s 57 seats.

The lists of the pro-independence Tavini Huira’atira, which won the first round two weeks ago, and of the autonomist A Here Ia Porinetia are unchanged.

For today’s run-off round, the ruling Tapura Huira’atira changed its list by adding four candidates of the opposition Amuitahiraa, which had been eliminated in the first round.

The list winning most votes today will get a third of all seats as a bonus, which will give it an absolute majority.

The remaining two thirds of the seats will then be distributed according to the lists’ relative strength.

To promote gender parity the lists must alternate male and female candidates.

Closing times of the polling stations vary, but unofficial results are expected by the end of the day.

Publishing any result before all stations are closed is prohibited and can incur a fine of US$80,000.

The elected assembly representatives will meet in mid-May to elect a new president.

The three candidates are Tavini’s Moetai Brotherson, the incumbent Édouard Fritch and the first ever woman seeking the top job, Nicole Sanquer of A Here Ia Porinetia.

Activist dies in accident
Meanwhile, a leading activist of the pro-independence Tavini Huira’atira party and the anti-nuclear movement has died in an accident.

Media reports said Ralph Taaviri, who was an experienced hunter, disappeared in the Punaruu valley of Tahiti.

Searchers found his body at the bottom of a cliff and a helicopter was needed to recover it.

Taaviri was one of the co-founders of the environmental NGO Faatura te rahu a te Atua.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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