St. Maarten urged to formulate vision about Kingdom’s future

POSTED: 11/24/10 10:30 PM

THE HAGUE – St. Maarten, Curacao and Aruba have to formulate their vision about the Kingdom’s future sooner rather than later to facilitate a sensible debate about the issue, members of the permanent parliamentarian committees for Kingdom Relations in the First and Second Chamber said yesterday. The islands and the Netherlands are expected to give their opinion about issues like voting rights for the First and Second Chamber.
The committees discussed the report Choosing for the Kingdom that was commissioned in 2009 by the Parliamentary Consultation Kingdom Relations. The report aimed to investigate solutions for the democratic deficit – the lack of having a say in Kingdom matters like foreign affairs and defense.
The First and Second Chamber discussed the report for the first time in January. They are against voting rights for the Dutch parliament for citizens on the Caribbean islands. They also questioned the appointment of a permanent representative for the islands in meetings of the Dutch parliament.
Since January, not much has changed. “We wanted answers from the government and have a debate afterwards. And we want to know how people on the other side of the ocean think about this,” CDA-parliamentarian Bas Jan van Bochove said.
Van Bochove and the SP’s First Chamber faction want to know how a permanent representative at the parliament would work. “We want to know what the parliaments think about this,” Socialist Party-member Sineke ten Horn said.
VVD First Chamber-member Fred de Graaf was curious about the reaction from the islands to the point of view that voting rights for the Dutch parliament are not an option. De Graaf said that voting rights for the First Chamber are more realistic. “After all, we don’t vote for their parliaments either,” he said.
De Graaf referred to an extensive memorandum about the Kingdom that was announced by the Dutch government a year ago and that dealt with the same topics. “I can understand it if the government wants to wait with its answers until that memorandum is ready.”
Brigitte van der Burg, the chair of the Second Chamber committee for Kingdom Relations suggested asking the islands to come up with a speedy reaction and to urge the government to present its memorandum before April 1 of next year, because there are elections for the provincial parliaments in the Netherlands on May 23. After those elections, a new First Chamber will be installed as well.
Several parties wanted to postpone a working visit to the islands until after the debate about the Kingdom’s future, but Marijke Linthorst (CDA) opposed this. A date for the working visit has still to be scheduled.

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