The Territorial flag of French Polynesia
The round device in the middle is composed of sun rays in yellow, blue waves for the sea and a double canoe with 5 crosses symbolizing the 5 Polynesian archipelagoes.
Relationships between France and French Polynesia have been established many years ago. In 1843, the first act was signed between France’s King Louis Philippe and Tahiti’s Queen Pomare IV. This treaty converted Tahiti status from an Oceanic Settlement ( “Etablissements de l’Océanie” ) into a French Protectorate.
After World War II, it became an Overseas Territory with a specific organization. In 1956 and 1957, two new statuses gave the people of Tahiti and Her Islands the opportunity to manage their own internal public affairs and extended this right to new sectors such as trade and transportation. But the French Governor was still presiding the Council.
In 1984, a law implements a first autonomy status. The Polynesian Territory could establish distinctive “national” symbols (like a flag and an anthem) to take place next to the French Republic emblems. The Territory’s executive chief was the President of the Government of French Polynesia. But the real autonomy was only finalized on January 24th, 2000.
Today, the French Polynesian Assembly adopts “laws” in more important sectors and not only administrative acts. French Polynesia is now a member of international organizations and has its own representation in foreign states.
This new overseas country’s (called in French a “TOM” – Territoire d’Outre-Mer) personality is characterized by a dual status:
- The French government : It remains in charge of the national defence, the maintain of the established order, the matters of nationality and immigration, justice, higher education, research, visual communication and currency. It is represented locally by a High-Commissioner who is responsible of the established order, the respect of the public freedom, and individual & collective rights.
- The Territory government : All other sectors not listed above are directly under the responsibility of the French Polynesian government or can be transferred to it (local administration, primary and secondary education, taxes, foreign exchanges, prices…).
The local Institutions
French Polynesia is governed by elected representatives. The three institutions are :
- The governement
- The Assembly
- The Economic, Social and Cultural Council (CESC)
The Government of French Polynesia
The President of the Government of French Polynesia is the Chief of the Executive and he represents the Territory and its Territorial administration. He is elected by the Assembly of French Polynesia with an absolute majority for five years. He appoints the Ministers and the Vice-President and presides the Council of Ministers.
Ministers represent the second part of the Government. The Council of Ministers takes appropriate measures required for the application of the resolutions voted by the Assembly. It has an important decision power.
The Assembly of French Polynesia
The Assembly is a deliberating institution with normative functions and executive control. It votes resolutions in all subjects within the Territory’s competency, except for the powers attributed to the executive. It also elects the President of the Government.
The 49 members of this Assembly are elected for five year at the «universal suffrage» i.e. directly by the population regarding a proportional representation of the five archipelagoes of French Polynesia. Composition of the Assembly based on the last election (6th May, 2001) is shared by 4 political parties.
The Economic, Social and Cultural Council (C.E.S.C.)
The C.E.S.C. is made of 41 members divided into four sectors: salaried employees ; employers ; agricultural activities (breeding, fishing and traditional craft industry) ; associations and groups with an economic, family, scientific, cultural, educative or sport nature.
The C.E.S.C. acts as an advisory group. It is consulted by the Government or the Assembly of French Polynesia regarding projects that have an economic, social or cultural nature. It may also conduct its own studies on subjects relevant to its competence.