The Daily Herald writes that Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk stated on Friday that the low turn-out for the European elections on Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba in May this year is a source of concern. He wants a more effective information campaign for the next elections in five years.
The information campaign from the side of the Dutch Government in the Caribbean Netherlands did result in an increased awareness of the existence of elections for a new European Parliament, Plasterk explained in a letter to the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament on Friday. The information campaign had an effect on the voters, but unfortunately it did not result in a higher turn-out. Voters poorly grasped the information campaign, which included a large number of advertisements in the local media. “In the future we will strive to develop these campaigns in such a way that they will be better appreciated,” stated Plasterk. “Considering the low turn-out, we will look at ways how residents of the Caribbean Netherlands can be stimulated to cast their vote in the 2019 European elections,” stated the minister in his evaluation letter on the 2014 European and Dutch municipal elections.
The turn-out on the three islands was an average of 11.5 per cent, which is much lower than the 37.3 per cent of the people who voted in the Netherlands. The turnout in the Netherlands was below the European average which was 42.5 per cent.
In his letter, Plasterk also mentioned a complete other subject and announced that he will not be forbidding the voter to take their own photo, a “selfie,” in the voting booth with the ballot. This new phenomenon, called “stemfie” in Dutch, became popular during the last Dutch municipal elections in March this year. A Dutch court has confirmed that this is not in violation of the law. The minister said he shared the position of the Voting Council that the right to confidential voting was one of the most important warrantees in the election process, but he has no indications that “stemfies” were taken under pressure or as proof of a bought vote. Besides, added Plasterk, pressure and bribery are already punishable by law. The question is also whether a prohibition of “stemfies” could be upheld, that is why the minister was not in favour of adapting the Electoral Law at this moment in order to forbid the “stemfie.”
An information campaign will be set up for the next elections to stress that the right to vote in secrecy is a great good, and that nobody should feel the least pressured to make known for whom she or he has voted, it was stated in a press release.