Turnout in critical snap elections in New Caledonia was around 32.39% at midday

Turnout in critical snap elections in New Caledonia was around 32.39% at midday

France's overseas territory in Pacific goes through parliamentary elections amid tensions, political protests

By Nur Asena Erturk

The turnout rate in the legislative elections in France’s overseas territory of New Caledonia was 32.39% at midday, according to media reports.

The polling stations closed in the Pacific archipelago at 5 p.m. local time (0600GMT), and New Caledonians who suffered from violent riots in May and June due to political tensions, were not fully focused on the elections due to instabilities, daily Le Figaro reported.

The electoral campaign did not truly begin in some areas of the island due to the curfew and the tensions between protesters and police, where over 222,000 voters were registered.

Voting could not be held in the eastern town of Houailou, where the rioters blocked access to the polling stations at the town hall, French media reported.

The police station in Houailou was also targeted the night before the elections with a truck that protesters previously stole.

French President Emmanuel Macron dissolved the parliament and announced snap elections after the far-right National Rally (RN) swept more than 31% of the vote in the European Parliament elections on June 9, a move that many observers have called a risky gamble.

He also announced on June 12 the suspension of the much-contested electoral reform plan in New Caledonia.

The reform plan provoked violent riots in May in the archipelago and lasted for weeks. At least seven people died and over 370 were injured in the riots.

If changes to electoral rules were adopted, French nationals who have lived on the island nation for at least 10 years would be eligible to vote in local elections.

Locals, however, were concerned that the changes would dilute the indigenous Kanak population's vote.

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