Op-ed — St. Thomas
The Virgin Islands and other U.S. territories often argue that they should be allowed to vote in U.S. presidential elections, which, at the moment, the constitution prohibits. But what happens in other nations’ islands when they, in fact, can vote for President?
This occurs routinely in French territories, as it does not in British, Dutch on American islands; witness, Sunday’s voting for the President of France, in which island residents’ votes counted just as much as those of residents of Paris. In that election the leftish candidate, Francois Hollande got 52% of the vote, world-wide, upsetting the rightish candidate, Nicolas Sarkozy, the incumbent, who received about 48%.
The French islands usually are more leftish in their voting than those on the French Mainland, and this election was no exception. The islands, generally voted 62 percent for Hollande, a good ten points more than those in France itself; the breakout can be seen below:
French Territories Location Sarkozy Hollande
St. Martin and St. Barts Carribean 5,641 3,851
Guadeloupe “ 48,292 123,821
Martinique “ 52,829 114,527
French Guiana South America 15,830 25,880
St. Pierre/Miquelon near Newfoundland 1,105 2,080
French Polynesia South Pacific 57,080 50,097
Wallis & Futuna “ 2,974 3,795
New Caledonia “ 61,772 38,239
Reunion Indian Ocean 114,120 286,109
Mayotte “ 19,676 18,946
379,319 622,075 (62.1%)
I have listed Sts. Martin and Barts first because they are the closest French territories to the U.S. Virgin Islands. That joint entity was one of four of the ten territories that went for
Sarkozy; the other six territories, including the three most populous ones, (Reunion, Guadeloupe and Martinique) all voted for the Socialist, and by well over two to one in the case of Reunion.
Reunion is reliably Left, and for many years it was represented by one of the handful of Communists remaining in the French Parliament. On the other hand, there is Wallis & Futuna, the least developed of the French territories (think American Samoa), which used to be dominated by a chief who had strong Gaullist leanings. For decades those little (mid-Pacific) islands had the most right-wing voting records in all of France. No more. I have lost touch with why that is the case.
The name Mayotte may challenge some. Geographically it is tied to the Comoros Islands, a coup-ridden former French territory, now an independent nation just north of Madagascar. But some years ago the residents of the island of Mayotte decided that they would, in effect, secede from the Comoros to stay in the French empire, and France welcomed the decision. A little bit of reverse decolonization!
The vote for Hollande in the French territories would be comparable to one for Obama in the upcoming U.S. election. My suspicion is that were the U.S. islands to vote most of their votes would be cast for the Democratic candidate with the possible exception of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands in the Pacific. The local establishment there makes Mitt Romney look like a flaming Socialist.
Editor's Note: David North, a retired Department of the Interior official and a resident of Arlington, Virginia, writes about government and money from time to time. He pointed out a couple of years ago that the V.I. Lottery was the only one in the history of the U.S. to run at a loss; he has also written about the V.I. Department of Education's unused federal funds returned to the U.S. Treasury.