Saturday , April 1 2023

Parliament urged to handle voting right now

The Daily Herald writes that the Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk has implored on the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament to proceed with the handling of the law proposal to regulate the voting rights of non-Dutch residents on Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba. The minister sent an urgent request to the Second Chamber on Monday in which he once more outlined his reasons as to why he would like Parliament to continue the handling of the law proposal to regulate the voting rights of foreign residents of the Caribbean Netherlands in the Island Council elections.

The Second Chamber decided last week Wednesday to postpone the handling of this law proposal until Minister Plasterk has complied with its request to look at the possibilities of establishing an Electoral College (“Kiesraad”) for the Caribbean Netherlands, as well as one for Dutch nationals living abroad.

The Second Chamber, but also the First Chamber, would like to see an Electoral College established to secure the voting rights of residents with the Dutch nationality for the First Chamber, the Senate. Only Dutch nationals on the islands would be able to vote for this college, which in turn would co-elect the members of the Senate. This set-up would prevent that foreigners would be able to influence the Senate’s composition when members of the Island Councils attain the right to co-elect members of the Senate once the Constitution has been amended.

In his letter, Plasterk explained that the law proposal would provide the legal basis for non-Dutch nationals of the Caribbean Netherlands to cast their vote in the upcoming Island Council elections and be elected in the Island Council. These residents will be able to cast their vote in the Island Council elections anyhow, but this would be solely based on a decision of Island Government. The law proposal contains a horizontal stipulation that prevents that, with a possible future amendment of the Constitution, foreigners would attain an indirect say in the Senate’s composition through the Island Council. Plasterk added that the First Chamber backs this law proposal for this reason and, as such, he had promised to send the law proposal to the Second Chamber.

The minister also contended that the plenary debate on September 24 concentrated on the voting rights of foreign residents in the Caribbean Netherlands for the Island Council. “In that context, I said that postponing the handling was not desirable, but that it didn’t have a direct significant effect since they can currently vote.” According to Plasterk, it would be an additional reason to continue the swift handling of the law proposal if the Second Chamber found it important that persons without the Dutch nationality can postulate for the upcoming Island Council elections. The minister said he hoped that his reasons would be sufficiently motivating for the Second Chamber to continue the process. He committed to drafting an analysis of the possibilities for an Electoral College before the end of the year.


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