Voters on Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba are going to the polls today, Wednesday. These are the first Dutch Parliamentary elections since the islands became part of The Netherlands. A number of Dutch citizens on St. Maarten could also take part in the elections.
The Dutch ‘public entities’ Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba together have a population of a little over 21,000 residents of whom close to 15,000 are eligible voters. They have the same active and passive voting rights for the Second and First Chamber of Dutch Parliament, just like all other residents in The Netherlands with the Dutch nationality. The votes from the islands are not nearly enough for one of the 150 seats in the Second Chamber, but they can play a role in the division of the residual seats. Residents of the Caribbean Netherlands can vote for no less than 18 parties. Ten are existing parties, currently represented in the Second Chamber: the conservative VVD party, Labour Party PvdA, Socialist Party (SP), Party for Freedom PVV, Christian Democratic Party CDA, democratic D66 party, green left party Groen- Links, Christian Union (CU), Party for Animals PvdD and the reformed SGP party.
There are several new parties: 50PLUS, Party for the Future (Partij van de Toekomst), Anti Europe Party and the party of Hero Brinkman DPK (Democratisch Politiek Keerpunt). Several new parties like the Pirate Party, Party for Humans and Spirit and the Liberal Democratic Party did not make it in the Caribbean Netherlands voting district because they could not muster the necessary 30 signatures.
With so many parties and different opinions, The Daily Herald provides an overview of the points in the programmes of the different political parties about the overseas part of the Kingdom, including the Caribbean Netherlands.
“Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten are autonomous countries in the Kingdom. They have to hold up their own pans financially. The Netherlands supports an adequate supervision on the quality of government, justice and finance. The VVD prefers to maintain a commonwealth relation with Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten. Autonomy and own responsibility comes first for the VVD. To this extent the Charter has to be revised. A flow of deprived migrants comes to The Netherlands from the former Netherlands Antilles. The VVD wants to restrict the registration of underprivileged migrants from Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten by setting conditions for their permanent residency in The Netherlands. That is in line with the conditions that these countries have where it comes to Dutch residents who want to live on the islands (a certain income, no criminal record). These conditions from now on will also count in reverse.”
(red. SabaNews: No remarks about the BES-islands in this text about the VVD)
“Also the islands Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba are part of The Netherlands. The process whereby the islands were placed under direct management of the Dutch Government does not proceed well, despite all efforts. The PvdA wants to improve this by making better use of local knowledge. Things are solved too often through Dutch glasses. Whatever can be done locally should be done locally. The Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations has to take strong command, locally represented by the National Government Representative (Rijksvertegenwoordiger). Only then can it be prevented that all ministries separately execute their plans simultaneously. The objective is a fruitful cooperation with a minimum of intercontinental travelling (by Dutch civil servants). The PvdA wants to quickly turn the false start into a successful trajectory for a better wellbeing on the islands.”
“In the drafting and executing policy for Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, there will be more attention for the special scale and circumstances of the islands. The Netherlands cannot take responsibility for good governance on Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten. That is why we want a new Charter for the Kingdom in which the countries offer each other assistance based on equality.”
“We say goodbye to the Antilles. Now still in the Kingdom, but if it is up to the PVV, all six islands will shortly become foreign territory. We grant the islands full sovereignty, the sooner the better. Islands with a corrupt government like Curaçao per direct do not receive a penny from The Netherlands anymore.”
“The Netherlands invests in the Kingdom of The Netherlands as it has been realised after the constitutional reform of October 10, 2010: a unique cooperation construction of The Netherlands with three autonomous countries (Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten) and a special relation with three islands (Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba). Points that we have to address each other on as partners for the CDA are democratic values, good governance, financial solidity, administrative integrity and respect for each other’s standpoints. Where it concerns the Caribbean Netherlands (Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba) there is a special role in the standard of living and health care.”
“D66 wants The Netherlands as a trustworthy partner to cooperate with good governance, building of capacity, exchange of knowhow, digital citizen communication and financial stability. The Netherlands carries responsibility for Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba. The transition to special municipalities is marked by the necessary growing pains. D66 wants The Netherlands to be constructive and without paternalism. D66 wants a digital window for residents of these islands for questions, suggestions and complaints about government.”
“Late 2010 the constitutional reform took effect: Curaçao and St. Maarten became autonomous countries in the Kingdom (Aruba already had that status much longer). Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba became ‘special public entities’ of The Netherlands. GroenLinks supports this new constitutional structure because it contributes to a better public administration. We want The Netherlands to supervise a correct spending of government funds. The Netherlands cannot refuse entry of deprived Antilleans. But we do want to prevent that poorly educated Antilleans come to The Netherlands and remain in a deprived situation here. There is an important role for the social formation. GroenLinks finds it unacceptable that large groups of people on the islands live below the subsistence level in poor neighbourhoods while the tourism sector flourishes. That makes these people feel second class citizens. The Netherlands has to make large investments in employment projects and a proper system of social security. Hotel chains for example have to be stimulated to take Antillean employees into service. GroenLinks also supports the protection of the rich biodiversity and the monumental buildings on the islands. The islands offer limitless possibilities to combine sustainability with a healthy economic potential.”
Proposes the following measures to improve the relations in the Kingdom: “Respect for own language, culture and traditions of the islands as well as free movement of persons within the Kingdom. Kingdom citizens cannot be expelled from the countries. Guarding fundamental human rights and freedom, legal security and proper governance remains a responsibility of the Kingdom. This includes children’s rights which will be placed on the agenda of the 2013 Kingdom Conference. No needless and endless restriction of the autonomy of the new countries because that does not contribute to the further development of taking one’s own responsibility. Consensus laws that restrict the development of the new autonomous countries per 2015 will have a limited validity of no more than four years. The constitutional position of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba has not been properly arranged. Too often the residents of these islands are treated differently than residents of The Netherlands. For example where it comes to social security. Unnecessary and untimely Dutch laws have been forced on the islands such as the legalization of euthanasia and abortion. Further integration of the status of the islands in the Constitution can only take place after the evaluation (in 2015) and after the people have expressed themselves through a referendum. We want true participation of island governments and the people. A coordinating member of the cabinet that carries the final responsibility and a permanent representative is needed in The Hague. The free allowance must be increased. This is highly necessary. A number of social facilities are far below level of what is acceptable in The Netherlands. We want to increase this level and invest in collective facilities such as children’s allowance, child care allowance and disability allowance. Tackling analphabetism is a priority for it is the best way out of poverty. Put a remigration plan for graduated students and professionals to stimulate educated employees to return to their island. Impulse is needed to improve the investment climate and stimulate the economy. The identity and culture of the islands must be respected.”
“In Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba there are more than 10,000 different kinds of plants and animals, including flamingos, iguanas and orchids. This special nature deserves good protection. The National Government contributes through (maintaining of) regulation, know-how and finances to preserve nature on and around these islands. Protection of the coral reefs becomes a priority.”
“A lot has happened in the Kingdom. The SGP finds it undesirable that unethical, objectionable issues are being forced on Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba. Freedom to have one’s own policy on such fundamental themes is desired. Concretely, the islands should be able to not want abortion, euthanasia, same sex marriage and prostitution. No force is applied to accept these things. That also counts for the other overseas countries in the Kingdom. Drug trafficking must be severely punished within the whole Kingdom. To realize this, close cooperation with Dutch police and justice is necessary. Good and affordable health care and education are guaranteed. Adverse effects on the purchasing power on the standard of living in the Caribbean Netherlands has to be prevented as much aspossible