Today’s Central Committee of Parliament meeting with Independence St. Martin Foundation (ISMF) should be interesting. Many are no doubt apprehensive about the idea being promoted, but of course that doesn’t mean it can’t be discussed.
Holding a referendum on the issue and getting the territory of St. Maarten on the United Nations’ decolonisation list are the main topics. Realising both would obviously need to be done in that order, because certainly no move can be made until the people have spoken.
Important is also the nature of such a constitutional referendum, which would be the third on the Dutch side. In the first two of 1994 and 2000 a large majority voted to remain part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
However, in both those cases there had been several other options, while that would not be the scenario with the “Yes” or “No” formula as a de facto choice between the status quo and becoming a fully sovereign state. Offering other alternatives is always a possibility, but making them feasible would again require cooperation from current kingdom partners.
There are a lot of persons wary about any more changes too, following decades of seemingly endless talks and meetings regarding the former Netherlands Antilles, going back to even before the departure of Aruba in 1986. Referenda are not legally binding, but if representative with a voter turnout of more than 50 per cent they are hard to ignore.
Of course, the prospect of losing the Dutch passport and with it European Union (EU) citizenship is always a sensitive aspect of the debate. There are some examples to the contrary, but not really with absolute political independence from the former coloniser.
No decision on the issue can be expected before the September 26 elections, although some political parties or individual candidates might use it as part of their campaign platforms. Be that as it may, citizens must ultimately have the final word.
If a referendum is to be held it would therefore be recommendable to allow not just adults but also 16- and 17-year-olds to participate. After all, the future at stake is very much theirs.
Source: Daily Herald
The future at stake