In their editorial The Daily Herald writes today:
It’s a democratic decision taken by the Island Council, but going over the various options in next month’s constitutional referendum of St. Eustatius one can’t help but wonder what prospects the result will create. One argument often used to justify a third such consultation on the island within two decades is that the majority on both earlier occasions actually voted to remain in the Netherlands Antilles, even though it was pretty clear the second time around that country would have to be dismantled, not in the last place because St. Maarten already had opted out. Curaçao followed suit, while Bonaire and Saba chose to become special municipalities of the Netherlands. Statia ended up joining the latter two territories anyway as what is now called the Caribbean Netherlands, simply because there was no Antilles left in which to stay. That is still the case, of course, so it’s not one of the four alternatives now offered. Instead, they are the current overseas public entity, independence, autonomous country status within the Dutch Kingdom or an integral part of the Netherlands.
The problem is that except for remaining as is or going independent, cooperation will be needed from The Hague. To what extent such would be forthcoming in the other scenarios is a big question mark, because the whole constitutional structure debate took much time and energy, so the hope was that this would have ended at least for now when the new relations took effect on 10-10-10. The agreed-on evaluation after five years is due in 2015 and it will be hard to completely ignore a recent referendum on that occasion. Still, it needs to be kept in mind how reluctant the Dutch Government was to grant the considerably bigger Curaçao and St. Maarten country status, as well as the safeguards and restrictions that were added compared to what Aruba received as the first to leave the Antillean constellation in 1986.
Moreover, even Aruba is experiencing tighter supervision from The Hague, as witnessed by the recent instruction to Governor Refunjol not to sign the 2014 budget. To be sure, becoming an “integral part” of the Netherlands obviously would require its full consent as well. All this in no way means the people and their elected representatives don’t have the right to exercise their right of self-determination as recognised by the United Nations (UN). However, it does give reason to weigh carefully the choice to be made on December 17 also in light of what is a likely realistic final outcome.