photo: John Samson

THE HAGUE – Parliament is trying to contact Statians by phone and through Facebook. MP’s are trying to prepare themselves for a debate about Dutch control on the island.

The Dutch government has been governing the special municipality since 2018, after a research commission concluded that there was an abuse of power and mismanagement. Before the MP’s decide when Statia will receive its own council members and politicians, they would like to hear the opinions of the inhabitants. Antje Diertens (D66) will collect all the opinions on behalf of Parliament.

The Dutch intervention is of a temporary nature to sure up the public finances, infrastructure, and personnel. There has been a lot of criticism, because (visible) improvements have not yet been noticed.

Koos Sneek, political leader of DP Sint-Eustatius – Picture: John Samson

Koos Sneek, jider of DP Sint-Eustatius – photo: John Samson

‘Patience running thin’

The roads are still horrible, the civil register is still a mess, and it takes months for a letter to be delivered. “We’re not noticing an improvement. They’re also not communicating with the inhabitants on what’s going on, so their patience is wearing thin”, warned former council member Koos Sneek (DP) in August 2019. Read more here.

Possible scenarios
Two years after the intervention, state secretary Raymond Knops (Kingdom Relations) wants to restore democracy back to the island in steps. Island council elections will be held, but the council members will have little to no say in the running of their island. The Dutch government commissioner will remain on the island for another two years.

If this plan will come to fruition will remain to be seen. “Parliament will eventually decide what happens”, says Antje Diertens (D66). “Hence we want to hear what the people have to say.”

A different scenario: democracy will be fully restored – against the wishes of the government – in one go. After the new island council elections, members of the council will appoint their own officials who will wield power.

Want to react from Statia? Do it this weekend

MP’s had several telephone calls this week. They’re asking inhabitants to give their opinions about the Dutch intervention through a special Facebook page. Opinions and reactions can also be e-mailed to:

Antje Diertens (D66) and Attje Kuiken (PvdA) will be collecting and bundling these comments this weekend. Afterwards Parliament can prepare for the debate with state secretary Knops.

Can elections happen in October?
Due to the corona crisis a lot of people are questioning the government’s decision to hold elections in October. “The island is cut off from the world, airlift and shipping have been suspended. There are a lot of Statians who are not on the island and who would like to return”, according to Diertens.

Parliament would like to know on the basis of reactions and comments from inhabitants if (new) political parties will have enough time to prepare for the elections.