2018 New Caledonian independence referendum

New Caledonian independence referendum, 2018
Do you want New Caledonia to attain full sovereignty and become independent?
LocationFlag of France.svg Flag of FLNKS.svg New Caledonia
Date4 November 2018
Valid votes138,93498.47%
Invalid or blank votes2,1651.53%
Total votes141,099100.00%
Registered voters/turnout174,99580.63%
Results by commune
Resultats par communes référendum Nouvelle Calédonie 2018.png
  Yes     No
Website: Referendum 2018
Emblem of New Caledonia.svg
This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
New Caledonia

An independence referendum was held in New Caledonia on 4 November 2018.[1][2] Voters were given the choice of remaining part of France or becoming an independent country.

Announced in the evening of polling day, the result was 56.4% for maintaining the status quo and 43.6% in favour of independence. The turnout was 81% of the 174,995 voters eligible to vote in this referendum.[3] Recent inhabitants who are registered to vote in general elections were ineligible to vote in the referendum, as agreed in the 1998 Nouméa Accord, representing 17% of the total of 210,105 registered voters of New Caledonia.

Prior to the vote, the government and authorities in Metropolitan France stated that they would recognise and abide by the results of the referendum. Despite the failure of the motion, New Caledonians will, under the terms of the Nouméa Accord, have the opportunity to vote again in 2020 and (if that vote fails as well) in 2022 if one third of the Congress of New Caledonia, the local legislature, agree to allow those votes to be held.[4]


New Caledonia was formally annexed by France in 1853, and Europeans and Polynesians, as well as other settlers, have since made the indigenous Kanak people a minority (27%, 11% and 39% respectively in the 2014 census[5]). The territory was used as a penal colony from 1864 to 1897, and the Kanaks were "excluded from the French economy and from mining work, and ultimately confined to reservations". Between 1976 and 1988, conflicts between the French government and the independence movement saw periods of serious violence and disorder (culminating in the Ouvéa cave hostage taking in 1988), with the emerging Kanak independence movement gaining support from many Kanaks frustrated with their lower socio-economic status and lack of involvement in the economy, seen as problems caused by the French "exploitation". Though GDP per capita (nominal) is high at $38,921 and though New Caledonia is a major producer of nickel, there is significant inequality in income distribution, with many claiming that the mining revenue benefits people outside the territory and its (declining) mining communities.[6]

Since 1986, the United Nations Committee on Decolonization has included New Caledonia on the United Nations list of Non-Self-Governing Territories.[7] The 1987 New Caledonia independence referendum, the first referendum on independence, was held the following year on 13 September 1987, but independence was rejected by a large majority, with 842 people (1.7%) voting for independence and 48,611 people (98.3%) voting to remain a part of France. Many pro-independence groups, such as the Kanak and Socialist National Liberation Front (FLNKS), boycotted the vote.[8] The participation was 59.10%.

The Matignon Agreements, signed on 26 June 1988, ensured a decade of stability. The Nouméa Accord signed 5 May 1998, set in motion a 20-year transition that transferred certain powers to the local government and laid the groundwork for an independence referendum in 2018.[9]

The Nouméa Accord stated a vote must take place by the end of 2018. On 2 November 2017, Édouard Philippe, the French Prime Minister, led a meeting to begin work on the referendum of independence, to be held by November 2018.[10] On 20 March 2018, it was announced that the independence referendum would be held on 4 November 2018.[11]

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