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French Polynesia

The politicians and the parties

Article published on the 2009-02-12 Latest update 2009-02-12 13:17 TU

Gaston Flosse (L) and Oscar Temaru(Photo: AFP)

Gaston Flosse (L) and Oscar Temaru
(Photo: AFP)

It may be the other side of the planet but French Polynesia is officially part of France. The 115 islands, which form five archipelagos, were taken over by the French in the 19th century. It is now the only territory designated as "French overseas land", with a local assembly and representatives in the National Assembly in Paris. But not everyone is happy with that. Here are some of the main politicians and parties.

The Union pour la démocratie: Coalition of separatist parties led by Oscar Temaru, a former seminarist and customs official who is now President for the fourth time;

Tahoeraa Huiraatira: autonomists led by Gaston Flosse, a former member of Nicolas Sarkozy's UMP and its predecessor, the RPR, who was President of the territory twice in the 1970s, once in the 1980s, from 1991-2004, from October 2004-February 2005 and from February to April 2008;

Ia Ora Te Fenua: group which supported outgoing President Gaston Tong Sang, another former member of the UMP, who was President in 2006-2007 and 2008-2009.

French Polynesians gained French citizenship in 1946, when the islands were designated as an overseas territory. In 1977, French Polynesia was granted partial internal autonomy, which was extended in 1984. In 2004 it became an overseas collectivity.  

Separatist feelings and economic woes have exploded into riots on several occasions, including in 1995 when France tested a nuclear weapon at the Mururoa Atoll.


French Polynesians celebrate their culture in Paris

Laura Angela Bagnetto meets Paris-based Polynesians far from home: Tahitian choreographer Andrea Terai and the tattoo artist Hina Tetaupu from Tuamotu Island.

(Photo: Ahu Tiare Nui)