According to preliminary results, most residents of the French overseas region did not support the initiative at the third referendum boycotted by pro-independence activists.
On Sunday the island of New Caledonia held its third referendum on independence from France. Like the previous two, this referendum ended in the same result as most citizens voted against the project, according to the first results announced by local media.
The outcome has not become a surprise since the independence movement called on its supporters not to participate in the vote. Leaders explained that they boycotted the referendum because they argued that it was impossible to hold it equitably on December 12 due to a COVID spark in the region.
By this evening approximately 42% of New Caledonians cast ballots. Over 95% said “no” to the territory’s independence.
French President Emmanuel Macron delivered a speech on French TV at 1 p.m. local time, welcoming the results highlighting that the three choices were made deliberately.
“It’s time for us all to write our history with ambition and respect. The history which will be remembered without ambiguity,” the head of state said.
The first two referendums were held in 2018 and 2020 with respectively 56,7% and 53,3% of the island’s population rejecting the independence from France. In those years the participation rates were considerably higher with 41,81% and 49,40% coming to the polls by the afternoon and over 80% taking part overall.
New Caledonia, situated around 11,000 miles (17,000 km) from Metropolitan France, is home to more than 270,000 people. It has been France’s overseas territory since 1946 and its citizens have French citizenship.