On a recent visit to Curacao, Commissioner of Constitutional Affairs, Chris Johnson, seemed very concerned about the shifting attitude of the voting Curacao public. Johnson noted that the Yes/No referendum seem to have taken a drastic shift towards the No position. Many public media sources including the structure of the campaign appear to have shifted the focus of the referendum from constitutional reform to a general opinion of colonialism and Dutch influence in Curacao.
Many television commercials being run for the "No Vote" have created a negative campaign about Curacao’s history and the long relationship it has with Holland. Because of this, public opinion seems to have significantly shifted towards voting No. Furthermore, the No campaign is using the example of the Dutch referendum on the European Union Constitution to demonstrate that the Dutch themselves recently decided to "Vote No" when it came to their referendum. This weak correlation seems to be resonating within the population of Curacao.
Commissioner Johnson wants to remind those in the BES Islands of Prime Minister Balkenende’s statement during the round table conference on December 15th 2008. During the press conference the Prime Minister was directly asked if Curacaos referendum would have consequences for the three smaller BES islands. To the discontent of many reporters, Prime Minister Balkenende stated twice that the result of Curacaos referendum would have no effect on the future and progress of the BES islands.
Although the Prime Minister has given this guarantee, this does not mean that the referendum will have no effect on the BES islands. Prime Minister of the Netherlands Antilles Emily de Jong-El’Hage has publicly stated that if No is the result of the referendum, she will step down. If her political party the PAR were to remove its support of the Central Government, this would mean that the Central Government would fall. In that event if no new Government were formed, federal elections would have to be held on all sides of the Island. This would have severe consequences for each of the five islands.
In closing, Johnson stated, "Many people throughout the Dutch Kingdom should be paying close attention to the May 15th referendum."