Minister Plenipotentiary Voges about European elections: “There are benefits for St. Maarteners”POSTED: 03/28/14 10:46 AM
St. Maarten – The ministers plenipotentiary of St. Maarten, Aruba and Curacao have called on citizens to vote in the European elections on May 22 in a brief video clip the Information Bureau for the European Parliament published yesterday on its website. Voters are able to register until April 10 at the local office of the Dutch representation. It is the second time in history that Dutch citizens in the Caribbean are able to vote in European elections.
St. Maarten’s Minister Plenipotentiary Mathias Voges appears in the video against a background of a portrait of King Willem-Alexander and Queen Máxima. To the left, part of a picture of the courthouse in Philipsburg is visible.
“We have the Dutch nationality and that makes us also European citizens,” Voges says in the video. “From the European Union we can receive financing for educational and cultural programs. We can also travel freely to all EU-countries and we can live there freely. There are benefits for St. Maarteners, so I want to ask you to go out and vote on May 22.”
Dutch citizens vote on May 22 to elect the representatives that will fill the 26 seats the country has in the European Parliament. The total number of seats in this Parliament is 751 – and the Euro-parliamentarians are elected for a period of five years. The elections in the EU-member states take place on different dates between May 22 and May 25.
“Taking part means using your rights as a European citizen,” Aruba’s Minister Plenipotentiary Alfonso Boekhoudt says in the video. “This way we are able to serve Aruba’s interests. We will get attention for Aruban problems in Brussels. This is why I call on citizens to take part in the elections.”
Boekhoudt said that the LGO-status has added value for the country. (The English abbreviation for LGO is CTO – it stands for Overseas Countries and Territories). “We have access to programs that serve the Aruban interests. Programs for education and development are good examples. Companies and the community are able to benefit from them,” Boekhoudt said.
Curacao’s controversial Minister Plenipotentiary Marvelyne Wiels appears briefly in the video with a statement in Papiamento before the director of the Curacao Home, Ann Groot-Philipps takes over. “As responsible citizens you have the duty to vote on May 22 for the European Parliament,” she says. “As a citizen of the Dutch Kingdom you are also a part of the European Union. Europe determines much more than you think. Use your right to vote to be able to influence the decision making in Brussels.”
Those who want to vote in Sint Maarten can do so by registering at the Office of the Dutch Representation, Front Street 26, before April 10. The registration forms are available at the office, or downloadable from www.stemmenvanuithetbuitenland.nl. As soon as the voting forms are available, the Representation will invite those who have registered by email to pick them up or have them sent to their home address. Voters can deliver their ballot in a sealed envelope at the Representation’s Office on May 22. The deadline on that day is 3 p.m. local time.