Published On: Tue, Sep 29th, 2020

Integration with the Netherlands gains momentum in Curacao

PHILIPSBURG – With the tenth anniversary of St. Maarten as an autonomous country within the kingdom of the Netherlands rapidly approaching, the discussion about the constitutional status of the island is slowly coming back into focus.

In Curacao the Antilliaans Dagblad and Extra commissioned a survey about the current sentiment to Kenniscentrum Curacao, a part of the University of the Caribbean and its results give us an inkling of what the outcome of a similar exercise in St. Maarten could be.

Kenniscentrum interviewed 873 voters by phone. Of the respondents, more than 70 percent said they support a referendum about Curacao’s constitutional status; 45 percent is in favor of remaining an autonomous country within the kingdom, 37 percent prefers direct ties with the Netherlands and just 7 percent thinks independence is a good idea; the remaining 10 percent had no opinion.

How do these results hold up against the outcome of the constitutional referendum of fifteen years ago? Then 68 percent of voters favored Curacao as an autonomous country within the kingdom and 23 percent wanted the island to become an integral part of the Netherlands. In the new survey, the gap between these two options has narrowed to 45-37.

St. Maarten held two constitutional referendums. The first one was in 1994, when 59.6 percent preferred to remain within the Netherlands Antilles while 33.1 percent wanted St. Maarten to become a self-governing country within the kingdom. Only 0.9 percent of the voters were for integration with the Netherlands and 6.2 percent (493 of the 7,868 voters) was in favor of independence.

In 2000 there was a second referendum – the one that led St. Maarten towards its current constitutional status. In six years time, the love for the Netherlands Antilles had almost completely evaporated: 3.72 percent voted for the “current status” (remaining within the Netherlands Antilles) and 11.82 percent wanted to become a part of a restructured Netherlands Antilles. A large majority – 69.98 percent – voted for becoming a country within the kingdom, a status the island would achieve ten years later. Support for independence was still at the bottom of the list but with 14.44 percent (1,282 of 16,193 voters) the support for this option had more than doubled.

The survey in Curacao brought several other things to light. Here is something many St. Maarteners might agree with: more than 85 percent of the 893 respondents said that the situation in Curacao has not improved since the island became autonomous on 10-10-10. While 41 percent says that the Netherlands is meddling too much in the island’s affairs, 38 percent has the exact opposite opinion.

Another majority – 56 percent – said that Curacao is unable to handle or solve its own problems, while 28 percent said the opposite.

About the concept of direct ties with the Netherlands – like the BES-islands – the participants in the survey are divided: 35 percent supports it, 40 percent opposes it, and 25 percent had no opinion or was neutral on this topic.

Photo caption: Willemstad, Curacao – Photo taken from Antilliaans Dagblad


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