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Electing a Government and oversees its work

A distinguishing feature of the Noumea Accord (point 2.3), is that New Caledonia’s executive is a collegial government elected by and accountable to Congress. This is one of Congress’s core powers

17 governments have been elected since 1999, including 4 in 2011.

Electing a government

Electing a government is an important moment in Congress.

Defining the number of members

First of all, Congress defines the number of members of a government by means of a decision. It must be between five and eleven members, as prescribed by the Organic Act.

Tabling candidate lists

Candidate lists for membership of the New Caledonian government, irrespective of whether candidates are congresspersons or not, are tabled by the member groups. They must contain the same number of candidates as seats plus three.

Each member of congress may appear on only one candidate list.

Lists must be tabled at least five days prior to the vote by the group chairs or their duly authorised representatives.

They must be signed the group chairs and indicate the following for each candidate:

  • whether or not he or she is a congressperson;
  • date of birth; and
  • special electoral roll number.

Once the lists have been received they are immediately forwarded to the High Commissioner of the French Republic.

List registration and forwarding is handled by the Clerk of Congress’s Office.

The candidates must be entitled to vote and eligible for election to a provincial assembly. If it is uncertain whether a candidate is eligible, the High Commissioner of the French Republic may consult the administrative court no later than forty-eight hours after the lists have been tabled and the court must respond also within forty-eight hours. If the court finds that the candidate is ineligible, the group has twenty-four hours to replace him or her.

Electing government members

At the beginning of a Congress term, the members of government are elected within 21 days of Congress’s first sitting.
They can also be elected during a Congress term if a government resigns for any of the following reasons:

  • the President of the Government resigns or dies;
  • a member of government who cannot be replaced resigns; or
  • a member of government and all the persons on his or her list resign.

In such special circumstances, if Congress is not in session, it must meet at an extraordinary session convened ipso jure by the Speaker not later than a fortnight after the Government has resigned.

Quorum

Congress may only elect government members if three fifths of Congress members (33) are present.

If the requirement is not met, the election will be held ipso jure three days later, not counting Sundays and public holidays, without any quorum requirements.

The candidate lists are read prior to the vote
Voting system

Government members are elected based on lists by highest-average proportional representation so that the government reflects the political views within Congress without adding or removing names or changing the order of presentation.

Announcing and forwarding the results

The Speaker of Congress announces the government-member election results and forwards them immediately to the High Commissioner, provincial assembly speakers, speaker of the traditional senate and chair of the economic social and environmental council.

Recording the results

The results of the government member election are recorded in specific election minutes signed by the Speaker of Congress and both secretaries.

At the first session following government elections, the President of the Government makes a general policy statement to Congress.

If a congressperson is elected to Government, he or she ceases to belong to Congress and must be replaced by the next person on the list. Upon leaving the government, he or she automatically returns to hi s or her seat in Congress.
Since 1999, the number of government members has been 11, except for the third government (28/11/2002 to 09/05/2004) which had 10 members.

Oral questions and Written questions

Oral questions

At least one sitting is devoted to oral questions, at each ordinary session of Congress.
Members of Congress are, therefore, entitled to ask oral questions about New Caledonian affairs during sittings.
The questions are asked in writing and must specify:
If a congressperson is elected to Government, he or she ceases to belong to
Congress and must be replaced by the next person on the list. Upon leaving
the government, he or she automatically returns to hi s or her seat in Congress.
Since 1999, the number of government members has been 11, except for the
third government (28/11/2002 to 09/05/2004) which had 10 members.

  • the purpose of the question
  • the name of its author(s)
  • the name of the member of government to whom it is put.

The Speaker of Congress immediately notifies the President of the Government of New Caledonia of the oral questions submitted to him or her in writing.

The Speaker of Congress may only include questions submitted to him or her in writing at least three days in advance on the oral question time agenda.

At each government-member question time, the number of questions that councillors of New Caledonia may asked may not exceed:

  • four questions per duly constituted member group;
  • two questions per political party represented in Congress; and
  • one question per independent member.

When it is a member’s turn to ask a question in the House, he or she has not more than two minutes to read it out. The New Caledonian government representative has four minutes to reply. If the author of the question wishes, he or she may respond for not more than two minutes to the government representative’s reply.

Written questions

Members of Congress may also ask written questions on matters not covered by oral questions.

All written questions must be signed by their author(s).

The Speaker of Congress must immediately forward written questions to the councillors of New Caledonia.

The Speaker of Congress must notify the President of the Government of New Caledonia of any written questions within 48 hours of tabling.

The President of the Government of New Caledonia must reply through the Speaker of Congress within one month and the Speaker must forward the reply to the Councillors of New Caledonia as soon as he or she receives it.

The tabling times for written question time are generally defined by the executive committee.

Motions of no confidence

Congress may question the Government of New Caledonia’s management by voting on a no-confidence motion signed by not less than one-fifth of members (ie eleven).

Congress must meet two days after the no-confidence motion has been tabled (not including Sundays and public holidays) without needing to be convened. Members vote during the two following days (not including Sundays and public holidays).

Only votes in favour of the no-confidence motion are counted and it can only be carried by an absolute majority of Congress (ie 28 members). A member of congress may only sign one no-confidence motion per session.

The motion terminates the government, although it must continue to manage day-to-day business until a fresh government has been elected.

Only one no confidence motion has been tabled since 1999, ie on 18 December
2012 It was discussed at the 20 December 2012 sitting, but was defeated and the
government remained in power.

Overseeing the government’s operations

Allowing the President of the Government to delegate powers

Congress may, subject to a three-fifths majority (ie 33 members) allow the President of the Government to delegate certain powers to other members of the government.

Tabling annual reports

The President of the Government is required to table a report to Congress every year:

1) during the first ordinary session, on the state of the country and the various government departments and another on New Caledonian Government shareholdings in companies and on their operations; and

2) during the budget session, on the government’s operations during the year and its action plan for the session.

The reports are forwarded to congress members not less than one week prior to the sessions.

At least ten days before the sitting, barring an emergency, the President of the Government must forward a report to the Speaker of Congress, if necessary by e-mail, on each of the issues to be discussed by Congress and, if applicable, any country bills and related draft decisions.

A right to be notified of certain appointments

The President of the Government must immediately forward any decision regarding the appointment of directors of country-level public bodies and government representatives on the boards of directors and supervisors of semi-public corporations to Congress.

In accordance with the provisions of section 74 of the Organic Act, all Congress members are entitled, as a prerogative of their status, to be informed of matters involving a

Only one no confidence motion has been tabled since 1999, ie on 18 December 2012 It was discussed at the 20 December 2012 sitting, but was defeated and the government remained in power country bill or draft decision. A right to information is one of elected representatives’ fundamental rights.

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Organisation

Procedure

Powers of Congress

Composition