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French Guianan voters were asked whether they wanted more power to be given to the local government based in Cayenne.[3] French Guiana was an overseas region and an overseas department of France, regulated by the article 73 of the French Constitution, giving it the same political status as metropolitan departments and regions. The proposed change would have led to it becoming an overseas collectivity, regulated by the article 74 of the French Constitution, similar to French Polynesia.[4]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_French_Guianan_status_referendum

The referendum was a status change that would have made French Guiana a oversea collectivity instead of a overseas region and department of France, similarly to what French Polynesia currently is. Yet a majority of voters voted against having more power and independence from France.

What reasons have been advanced that could explain why a majority of French Guianan voted against the proposed changes?

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    We do not know. But you could ask a question about what reasons were given by proponents of the "No" during the political campaign before the referendum.
    – SJuan76
    Commented Mar 22 at 13:37
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    Again, this seems a bit obvious... they wanted to be an overseas region and department of France. They didn't want to be an overseas collectivity.... It is just the same in any referendum "Why did the British vote for Brexit" Answer "because they wanted to leave the EU and not remain in the EU" Why did Australians voted no because they did not want to give indigenous people a separate elected body" and so on.
    – James K
    Commented Mar 22 at 20:21
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    As with Brexit or other referenda and elections, there plausibly were campaigns for and against,and those campaigns raised arguments. So the question seems perfectly answerable to me.
    – Toffomat
    Commented Mar 22 at 21:53

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This paper by Anne Catherine Ho Yick Cheong in Caribbean Studies explores various reasons why the "No" prevailed in the (first) 2010 Referendum :

  • There was a fear of losing the economic stability provided by the link with mainland France. French Guiana is poor (relatively to France as a whole), half of its households pay no income tax, so an autonomous Guiana would struggle to finance necessary projects and build its own future.
  • Living in a French département gives Guiana people access to social welfare and social services (e.g. Revenu de Solidarité Active, a monthly allocation for people without financial resources) that they feared losing if the ties with France were loosened.
  • Likewise, they feared that autonomy would mean not been part of European Union anymore, and thus losing access to European programs.
  • Some confusion seems to have occured about the differences between articles 73 and 74 of the French Constitution, and also between autonomy and independance (many voters oppose the latter).
  • Some Guiana inhabitants were genuinely attached or even grateful to the French Republic and/or approved the way the institutions currently worked.
  • Turnout was low (45%), in a period of low confidence toward politicians, the referendum coming after a year-long strike. One can only speculate about how people who didn't vote would have voted if turnout had been higher.

Summing up : if you change the institutions, you know what you lose, you don't know what you get, and that's a risk you may be reticent to take when you lack confidence in the political and economical structures.

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