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Union Calédonienne (Political party, New Caledonia)

Caledonian Union

Last modified: 2017-08-07 by ivan sache
Keywords: union caledonienne |
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Flag of UC - Image by Ivan Sache, 26 April 2017

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Presentation of UC

Union Calédonienne (UC; website) was founded in February 1953 by Michel Lenormand to prepare the elections to the General Council of New Caledonia. The UC won 15 out of the 25 seats while, for the first time in the history of the island, nine Melanesians were elected; most of them came from the two local confessional orgnizations founded after the Second World War, the AICLF (Protestant) and the UICALO (Catholic). The UC promoted solidarity between the two communities of European and Melanesian origins, as expressed by its motto Deux couleurs, un seul peuple (Two colours, a single people), but did not ask for independence of the territory.
The UC hold its first Congress on 12-13 November 1956 at the estate owned by Senator Armand Ohlen, elected in 1955. From 1951 to 1976, the single Representative of New Caledonia at the French National Assembly was elected under the UC flag: Roch Pidjot (1965-1986) succeded Michel Lenormand (1951-1964). In 1957, the UC won the first territorial elections and Michel Kauma was elected President of the Assembly.

In 1959, the UC entered a long political crisis marked by the emergence of several dissident movements and the fall of Michel Lenormand, involved in a criminal affair. The UC lost the 1972 territorial election and joined the opposition. During the Congress held at Bourail on 22 November 1977, the faction of UC supporting the independence took the control of the party; Rock Pidjot remained President while Jean-Marie Tjibaou was appointed Vice-President. In the 1980s, the UC represented the most important but the most moderate component of the FLNKS, founded in 1984 by Tjibaou. In 2001, the UC broke out with the FLNKS, promoting an "independance-association" status for New Caledonia and rejecting any negociation with the anti- independentists.

The UC has no relation with the Masonic lodge of the same name, created in 8 September 1869 in Nouméa by the Grand Orient de France, the largest Masonic organization in France, with its own flag. On 8 January 1875, the lodge was closed because some of its members had helped Henri de Rochefort, a member of the Commune of Paris deported to New Caledonia, to escape from Nou island on 20 March 1874. The lodge was restored in 1878 and existed until 1940; fearing the anti- Masonic policy of the Vichy government, the secretary destroyed the archives and suppressed the lodge. Reemerging in 1960, the lodge changed its name to Fraternité Calédonienne to avoid confusion with the Union Calédonienne party.

Ivan Sache, 24 August 2008

Flag of UC

In the 1950s the party founded the bulletin L'Avenir Calédonien (The Caledonian Future) and adopted the party stylized emblem designed by Michel Lablais, the party motto Deux couleurs mais un seul peuple (Two colours but a single people), subsequently changed to Deux couleurs, un seul peuple (Two colours, a single people), the flag (a green cross on an orange background; photo, photo) and the pharmacists' cross as the symbol of the party on election material. The UC was indeed known as "the green cross party".

The pharmacists' cross was most probably proposed by the founder of the UC, Maurice Lenormand (1913-2006), who got a Doctorate in Pharmacy at the Paris Faculty in 1945 and purchased in 1946 in Nouméa the Busiau Pharmacy (named after its owner Gabriel Busiau, d. 1933). Renamed Pharmacie générale de Nouvelle-Calédonie, the pharmacy became the biggest of the territory. The pharmacy was looted and burned down on 11 July 1985 during anti-independentist riots. Lenormand was also director of the Société coloniale du Pacifique austral and owner of a plantation on the Espirit Santo island, New Hebrides (today Vanuatu). Aged 85, Lenormand defended a Ph.D. thesis in linguistics and published a Drehu (the main Kanak language)-French dictionary (1999).

Ivan Sache, 26 April 2017