New Caledonia’s third independence referendum . . . and the day after

With the next – and final – ballot set for December, consequences of a Yes or No choice are becoming clear

By Alexander Dayant

The third and final self-determination referendum in New Caledonia will take place on Dec. 12 – the date settled after a week of ministerial consultations in Paris commencing last month between loyalists, independence advocates and the French government. This ballot will decide whether the territory will remain French or become a sovereign state.

The first two referendums, held in 2018 and 2020, were won by the pro-French side, respectively with 56.7 percent then 53.3 percent of the vote.

The announcement of the date for the third ballot is a good reminder for the French of the imminent end of a historic decolonization process that began more than a quarter of century ago. This deadline also paves the way for the “day after,” with hopes to find solutions to the current political, social and economic deadlocks that run deep in New Caledonia.

As a close neighbor to Australia, it is important to anticipate the consequences a “Yes” or “No” vote in the territory. A lot is still unknown in either outcome.