photo: Marnix van Rij at the polling station

ORANJESTAD – Statia’s newly elected island council will be able to exercise control over executive decisions for the first time in two years after the Dutch intervention on the island. But the scope of their powers will be limited due to the recovery legislation. Because otherwise it could take longer before Statians are able to govern themselves, through the BES-model as is the case on Bonaire and Saba.

Government commissioner Marnix van Rij has a positive outlook: “I myself do believe that it should be possible to return to the normal situation before the end date (September 2023) mentioned in the law. If we, the island council and the government commissioner work together and prove that we can implement the recovery legislation successfully.”

He hopes that Statia will be ready to hold normal elections in March 2023 just like the other BES-islands Bonaire and Saba. “It would be great if by that time we were already back to the normal situation of the island council, deputies and a Lieutenant-Governor. Because that would mean that you’re back on the regular election schedule for the BES-islands.”

The ‘Wet herstel voorzieningen Sint-Eustatius’ which was approved by the Dutch Parliament in July dictates what has to happen on the island (12 criteria) before Statia can fully regain control from the Netherlands. The criteria for the first phase have been met, hence the elections for the island council were called.

The island council will be able to control and influence the governing body (government commissioner) which has been appointed by the Netherlands. But the councilors are bound by the criteria and goals of the law. If those aren’t implemented, it will take longer for the island to regain its own governing body.

Van Rij wants collaboration and consensus with the newly elected island council: “Collaboration also means that everyone will take responsibility for their actions. But that you eventually want to reach a consensus. Because otherwise, if there’s a delay, for whatever reason – I don’t believe that will happen and that’s not our mindset – the law is clear: if you don’t meet the goals, you can’t progress to the next phase.

‘Collaboration and consensus with the newly elected island council’

The first thing he wants to accomplish together with the new island council is to create a joint plan and timetable. “And also which variables you use to measure progress in that plan, because practically speaking we have to implement the law, so that it can come to an end. Because only then would you have a fully functioning democracy.”

Van Rij doesn’t agree with the stance that the newly elected island council will only be able to speak on the details, because that’s what the law dictates.
“The island council will have a say starting on day 1. So it will be an exciting time for the future of Statia. Because a lot is being invested into the island.”

Marnix van Rij on the new island council (Dutch spoken)

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