photo: Tim van Dijk

THE BOTTOM – The political arena on Saba could look very different after the elections on March 20th. For years the blue Saba Labour Party (SLP) and the orange Windward Island People’s Movement (WIPM) have duked it out between each other. Now a third party has joined the race; the green United People Movement (UPM) started by Dave Levenstone.

The one-man party mainly targets the voters who are disappointed by the current opposition party, Monique Wilson’s SLP. During the previous term, the SLP barely opposed any of the WIPM’s policies and called almost no meetings. Now, flags of all three colors, green, orange, and blue wave in wind on the streets of Hells’ Gate, WindWardSide, and The Bottom.

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by Tim van Dijk [English subtitles available

Levenstone (UPM) was late turning in his Letters of Credence, so his party appears on the ballots as the blank list. He has a lot of confidence that he’ll join the opposition. “We have to move in a different direction and I will help with that.” Levenstone wants to drastically lower the costs of living on the island.

Extra authorities
Hemmie van Xanten, a candidate for Saba’s oldest party, the WIPM: “the current council has achieved a lot during the past four years. Saba is seen by the Netherlands as the most successful BES island. And we want to keep it that way.” Saba was granted extra funds and authorities in June 2018 from the Netherlands. The Hague praises the local council and the finances of the island.

Monique Wilson of the SLP says that her party’s style is not that of ‘guns and roses and battles of the day’. “We lobbied appropriately, effectively, and in a respectful manner. That has been our debate field.” The SLP would like to continue its current strategy which is to create more opportunities for young individuals and young professionals on Saba.

Saba with its 2000 inhabitants has a total of 1105 eligible voters. The turn-out is usually around 90 percent, according to Island Governor Jonathan Johnson.

The island council of Saba consists of five individuals, three of the councilmembers are provided by the winning party and two by the runner-up. If Levenstone manages to become the big winner, UPM and Saba will have a problem. His party doesn’t have a second and third candidate who can take a seat in the island council.

‘Serious business’
Saba’s eligible voters can vote at two polling stations on Wednesday, where voting still happens with pencil and paper. Votes can also be cast for the Senate of the Netherlands. Even though it will have little impact on the final result, people will still turn-out to vote for the Senate, says Island Governor Johnson: “voting on Saba is serious business.” 75 seats are up for grabs in the Senate. Saba can influence only 0.01 seat.

Caribbean Network will share the results of the elections via Facebook LIVE on March 20th between 21:30 and 22:30.