Motion on constitutional referendum irresponsible

Wednesday October 8th the island council of Statia has passed a motion to hold a referendum preferably before the end of this year. The motion was tabled and passed by four against one vote (DP voted against). The referendum was not a point on the agenda which, as is custom, was made available to the public prior to the meeting. Also the motion was not even debated in the meeting.

This practice alone already shows that the Council refuses to publicly debate this very important matter. It proofs again that most council members are afraid to express their opinion, not so much on if and when a referendum need to be held, but much more about what constitutional direction our island needs to go.

There is a draft referendum ordinance for more than a year. Only recently the Island Council appeared to have found the time to pass it into law. Something similar happened with the installation of a referendum committee, whereby also the candidates for membership were not scrutinized properly and a new appointment became necessary, causing another unnecessary delay.

Only a few weeks ago the Island Council realized that a referendum does not happen by itself and that they themselves have to take such a decision and give the referendum committee the instruction to carry out the referendum. The Council did not really study op to now what options they want on the ballot and until recently they did not realize this was their task as well. They are now seriously running out of time as Brighter Path and Pro Statia are pressurizing them for a while already to keep the referendum in November.

So the chance is that we will not have a full fledge referendum with several approved options but simply a Yes/No question on the present status. Problem is that the island council does not want to await the evaluation so they cannot give a clear picture what exactly the present status entails. Or maybe they do not want the people to know. It was only last week that Prof. Saleh, as an external expert, in his lecture strongly advised that it is important to await the outcomes of the evaluation in order to allow the people the chance to make a well founded choice.

Between now and the end of the year it is hardly possible to start a fully fledged information campaign and explain the pros and cons of all options that may appear on the ballot.

In short the Democratic Party is of the opinion that holding a referendum, also only three months before the island council elections and in this manner is highly irresponsible and clear proof of the incompetence of our present leadership!


Koos Sneek
President Democratic Party
St. Eustatius