photo: Hazel Durand

THE BOTTOM – Majority of Sabans voted for social liberal party D66 in Wednesday’s Second Chamber elections. Saba saw a considerably large turnout of voters. With a population of about 2000, almost 900 residents were eligible to vote and a total 385 persons (more than 40 percent) casted their votes at both voting stations.

The campaign leading up to this election was evident on the island in the form of a visit from CDA contender Koos Sneek, large promotional billboards encouraging participation in the election, several online discussions on why voting was important and even a message from the leading party Windward Islands People Party (WIPM) on the relevancy of Sabans casting their votes.

Poll-watchers at the voting station in The Bottom. Photo: Hazel Durand

Why vote
When asked why she voted, voter Desiree Soares-Johnson said, “I thought it was important to vote, because I believe if we don’t vote then it’s as if we don’t have a say. We were given this opportunity. So while I hear people complaining about not knowing enough about the parties, the information is there and you have to educate yourself. We are a small percentage, but we still count. By voting you are showing Holland we have a voice.”

Opposition leader Ishamel Levenstone (SLP) was at one of the two voting stations on Wednesday where he said he was encouraging young people to vote. He said it was important for the younger generation to become more informed about the political aspects surrounding the island. He said it was important to vote as it generates communication between the islands and Ministers in the First and Second Chambers. “We are not satisfied with everything, but I have a gut feeling eventually we’ll get there”, said Levenstone.

Several young Sabans had a hard time deciding if they should vote and who to vote for. Young voter Lionell Charles in words of encouragement said, “Even if you don’t know who to vote for at least vote blank, so this can be an indication that Holland needs to find out why there were so many blank votes. If a lot of persons voted blank then maybe they will see for the next time that more information is needed.”

Poll-watchers at the voting station in the Windwardside counting the votes

Who to vote for
Well known political advocate on Saba Dave Levenstone was a strong supporter of PVV Leader Geert Wilders during this election campaign. “I think if Wilders were to visit Saba he would be able to do more for the island than the other political parties who have made promises and not delivered,” he commented when asked why he voted for Wilders. As an example he made reference to the Spies Report, “The island governments have asked for more leeway, but nothing is being done to allow this to happen.”

Levenstone looks pass Wilder’s controversial views on Islam. “I think that’s just street talk in Holland and it doesn’t affect us”, he commented noting that other political parties such as the D66 also share some of Wilder’s views on religion.

In a message to the public on the importance of voting the WIPM party focused on the influence of the second chamber on the island’s ongoing developments. “The last four years have shown, that having Members of Parliament in the Second Chamber that are interested in Saba matters.”

Better representation
The statement further stated, “Right now we need representation in The Hague that will amend the legislation that currently hurts us, propose legislation that will enable progress and vigorously defend us against legislation that will bring us further harm.”