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European election campaign under scrutiny in Saba, Statia

For the last five days, two independent researchers from Bonaire have been on St. Eustatius to find out what people thought of the information campaign prior to the European elec­tion last month. Given that for example on Statia voter turnout was less than nine per cent of registered vot­ers, feedback is considered vital for similar campaigns in the future.
Researchers Coen van Gennip and Tim Verheul are using different tech­niques to probe the minds of those interviewed. At least 1,200 residents of Bonaire, Saba and Statia have been contacted recently ei­ther online or face-to-face. “We use social networking such as Facebook to link up with people who are active within the community. It is a good starting point since the web soon leads on to a web of people with percep­tions,” Verheul explains.

Researchers Coen van Gennip (left) and Tim Verheul (right) in front of the St.Eustatius Monuments Office.

“We are interested to know if people knew where to vote, what they needed to vote for and if they re­ceived enough or the cor­rect information about the European elections in the campaign run by the Gov­ernment Department Ca­ribbean Netherlands,” he said.

According to Van Gennip, they have interviewed 300 residents from all walks of life in the Caribbean Neth­erlands. “We have knocked on doors and spoken to street cleaners and office workers and visited retire­ment homes,” he said.

The two researchers did not give a passing judge­ment about the feedback they have received to date. Their full report will be sent to the Ministry of Home Affairs and Kingdom Re­lations first and then on to the Second Chamber of the Dutch Parliament.

Whereas researchers Ver­heul and Van Gennip have maintained their indepen­dence during the interview sessions, they have provid­ed some information about the importance of the Eu­ropean elections.

“Bonaire, Saba and Statia are not part of the Euro­pean Economic Area. But European Development Funds are distributed in Statia and the choice of Dutch representatives in Brussels can be decided by one vote only,” Van Gennip said.

Online questionnaires are available on www.opinion­statia.com and www.opin­ionsaba.com. The survey is available in English, Papia­mentu and Dutch.

The Daily Herald.

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