Politics in the French Pacific, 1945–1980

  • Robert Aldrich


Politics in the Pacific territories since the Second World War has been formed by a mixture of, and often clash between, policies emanating from the central administration in Paris and the actions of various groups in the islands themselves. The often conflictual relationship between the metropolitan government and its representatives in the territories, on the one hand, and local interest groups, individuals and parties, on the other, persisted past the formal end of the colonial era in 1946. Several new features overlay this traditional antagonism, however, notably the formation of political parties and the enfranchisement and politicisation of indigenous islanders. The result was a heightened demand for greater autonomy in New Caledonia and French Polynesia and, ultimately, calls for outright independence. The reformist, conciliatory politics of the 1940s changed into a campaign against the French state in Tahiti in the 1950s, and in the 1980s New Caledonia witnessed a violent struggle for independence; however, cycles of confrontation always alternated with ones of compromise. During these decades, proposals for départementalisation (and thus greater integration of the territories into the French Republic), autonomy, ‘independence-in-association’ and a more radical ethnically-based independence were all broached, political leaders were exiled, imprisoned and assassinated, and charges of treason, collaboration with colonial oppressors and interference by outside powers were proffered.


Political Party Political Life Nuclear Testing French Government French State 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    See Robert Aldrich and John Connell, France’s Overseas Frontier: Départements et Territoires d’Outre-Mer (Cambridge, 1992), Ch. 7, for a detailed discussion of the structure of politics in the DOM-TOMs.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 3.
    see Philippe Lechat, ‘Le Statut de la Polynésie Française du 6 Septembre 1984. Cinq ans après: autonomie interne ou autonomie internée?’, Annales du Centre universitaire de Pirae, 3 (1989), pp. 69–98Google Scholar
  3. for the texts of the various statutes, see Philippe Lechat (ed.), Royaume de Tahiti et Dépendance, Etablissements Français de l’Océanie, Polynésie Française: Institutions Politiques et Administratives — Textes et Documents, 1819–1988 (Papeete, 1990)Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    See Michel Panoff, ‘Tahiti et le mythe de l’indépendance’, Les Temps modernes, 225 (1965), pp. 1443–1471.Google Scholar
  5. 8.
    See Bengt and Marie-Thérèse Danielsson, Poisoned Reign (Harmondsworth, second edition, 1986)Google Scholar
  6. 9.
    Afred-René Grand, ‘Pouvanaa a Oopa et le nationalisme à Tahiti’ (Thesis, Paris, 1981);Google Scholar
  7. 12.
    See Jean Suret-Canale, ‘Nouvelle-Calédonie: Une Page oubliée de l’histoire’, Révolution 453, 4 November 1988, pp. 45–49Google Scholar
  8. 13.
    The manifesto is reprinted in Apollinaire Anova-Ataba, D’Ataï a l’indépendance (Nouméa, 1984), pp. 185–188.Google Scholar
  9. 15.
    For a personal account by one demonstrator arrested in the Ville d’Amiens affair, see Noël Ilari, Secrets tahitiens (Paris, 1978), Part III, Ch. 2Google Scholar
  10. 20.
    and William Tagupa, Politics in French Polynesia, 1945–1975 (Wellington, 1976)Google Scholar
  11. 42.
    John Connell, New Caledonia or Kanaky? (Canberra, 1987), pp. 243–244.Google Scholar
  12. 43.
    Bernard Brou, Trente ans d’histoire politique et sociale de la Nouvelle-Calédonie de 1945 à 1977 (Nouméa, n.d.), p. 51Google Scholar
  13. 44.
    On the political history of New Caledonia, see Myriam Dornoy, Politics in New Caledonia (Sydney, 1984)Google Scholar
  14. 45.
    Union Calédonienne, Pourquoi oui à l’Union Calédonienne, oui à l’autonomie? (Nouméa, 1972), p. 1.Google Scholar
  15. 49.
    Quoted in Virginia Thompson and Richard Adloff, The French Pacific Islands (Berkeley, 1971), p. 326.Google Scholar
  16. 58.
    Association pour la Fondation d’un Institut Kanak d’Histoire Moderne, Contribution à l’histoire du pays kanak (Nouméa, 1983), p. 91.Google Scholar
  17. 60.
    See Jean-Marie Tjibaou and Philippe Missotte, Kanaké: The Melanesian Way (Papeete, 1978)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Robert Aldrich 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert Aldrich
    • 1
  1. 1.University of SydneyAustralia

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