Blessings for Electoral Colleges BES Islands

The Dutch Election Council (“Kiesraad”) in principle agrees with the law proposal to establish separate Electoral Colleges (“Kiescolleges”) for Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba (so-called BES islands) so their residents can vote for the Senate. The Election Council on Thursday published its ad­vice on the establishing of the Electoral Colleges (EC) for the Caribbean Nether­lands (CN.)

The law pro­posal, which is part of the amendment to the Dutch constitution to secure a constitutional position for the islands arranges that, just as in the Netherlands, Dutch nationals residing in the CN will have an influ­ence on the composition of the First Chamber of the Dutch Parliament, the Senate.

“The Election Council for the most part can find itself in the law proposal. such as the choice for three sepa­rate ECs, their composi­tion and the organising of a combined voting with the Island Council elections,” it was stated in the 7-page report, signed by Chairman Jan Kees Wiebenga.

However. the Election Council did have a few re­marks of a more technical nature and found that some points in the proposed legislation “unnecessary” complicated the Electoral law. For one, the Council didn’t see the added value of having a special register of indications for politi­cal organisations that only want to take part in the EC elections.

The Council is of the opinion that the list of functions that are incompatible with the membership of the EC should be as short as pos­sible. considering the small size of the islands’ popula­tion. In the legislation proposal an Island Commissioner may not have a seat in the EC. The Election Council recommends making it pos­sible for a Commissioner to sit on the EC. This possibil­ity should also be created for civil servants to be a member of the EC.

The Election Council is in support of establishing three separate ECs for the three public entities as this enhances the visibility of these Colleges and gives credit to the uniqueness of each public entity. The Council also supports to have the same number of members in the EC as in the Island Council and to organise simultaneous elec­tions for the Island Council and the EC.

However, the Council has objections to have an elec­toral district for each of the three islands in the Sen­ate elections. According to the Council, having three separate electoral districts means an additional bur­den in the work execution and limits the visibility and local distinguishing of the ECs. The Council recom­mended to have the three public entities form one electoral district in the Senates elections.

The Council further ob­jected to making the dec­larations of support of the ECs public. This not only deviates from the situation in the Netherlands where declarations of support of the members of the Pro­vincial States are not made public, but it also elimi­nates the secrecy of voting of the members of the ECs. The Council advised to cancel the stipulation in the law proposal to give insight in the voting behaviour of the members of the EC in the law proposal.

Further­more, the Council advised to create a possibility for voters to receive a new bal­lot once in case they have made a mistake in filling in the ballot. Currently the members of the Senate are being elect­ed by the members of the Provincial States, who on their turn are being elected by eligible Dutch nationals residing in the province in the Netherlands.

Because the three public entities are not part of the Dutch prov­ince, the current system doesn’t provide for Dutch nationals residing on the islands to have a say in the composition of the Senate. In order to eliminate this disparity, the Dutch Gov­ernment has initiated the process of amending the Dutch constitution. The first reading was already completed in October last year and the new Parliament will now handle the second reading.

The law proposal regulates that Dutch nationals in the Caribbean Netherlands will attain the right to vote members of the ECs which in turn will be entitled to vote for the Senate. Once approved in the second reading. the amendment to the constitution will end a lengthy discussion on the possibility and manner of influence of Dutch nation­als in the CN on the Sen­ate’s composition.

The Daily Herald.

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