A billboard with posters of the different parties that contested in the previous Dutch elections for the Provincial States in March 2023. (Suzanne Koelega file photo)
THE HAGUE--Various smaller parties in the Dutch Second Chamber of Parliament dedicate attention to relations within the Kingdom in their draft 2023-2027 election programmes, varying from a few lines to two pages. A stronger Kingdom with more prosperity and equality are returning elements.
The ChristianUnion party election programme “New Connectedness” emphasized the deep bond within the Kingdom, a unique relationship that deserves more recognition and investments. Collaboration should be based on mutual involvement, solidarity and reciprocal respect to find good solutions for the specific social issues on the islands.
The need for an adequate social minimum in the Caribbean Netherlands was emphasised. People in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba should have enough income by raising wages, increasing the income of social welfare recipients and pensioners. An unemployment benefits scheme needs to be introduced. Also important is to reduce the cost of living.
The ChristianUnion wants to invest in mutual trust in the relations with Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten and work towards equitable relations with these countries. This also requires attention to the wounds left by the colonial relationship and the history of slavery. A Kingdom Canon needs to be created together. The party finds it important to strengthen the democratic rule of law, combat the gambling mafia and stand strong together against human trafficking.
The Farmer Citizen Movement BBB in its draft election programme “Everyday BBBetter,” emphasised that despite the relative autonomous positions of the islands, there was a joint responsibility for the well-being of the people. “In our opinion, the Caribbean part of the Kingdom, just like the countryside in the Netherlands, deserves more attention. The islands are not merely a vacation destination for the Netherlands,” the BBB stated.
Entrepreneurship can play a key role in strengthening relations and investing in people’s well-being and prosperity. One of the ways to do this is by opening a front office for entrepreneurs to assist them in doing business. Another idea is to create a Customs unity for the entire Kingdom with similar Customs tariffs for all four countries.
Furthermore, in the opinion of the BBB, the democratic deficit within the Kingdom needs to be eliminated as soon as possible, the democracy and good governance needs to be strengthened by solid, independent media, a social minimum has to be implemented for Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba and the three public entities need to be reinforced.
The Volt party in its draft election programme “Future now, A story of European optimism” stated that the people of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba should have their own elected representatives in the Second Chamber. “Residents of the Caribbean Netherlands currently have no direct say in the Dutch Parliament; they depend on representatives of parties who in the Netherlands are willing to be spokespersons. Volt wants the direct representation of Caribbean Netherlands in Parliament included in the Constitution through guaranteed seats.”
Volt is also a proponent of increasing the efforts to protect the constitutional rights of all residents in the Kingdom. “That is why Volt wants to strengthen the social midfield in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom with (financial) support.” Volt too wants to see a social minimum implemented for Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba as soon as possible. The Caribbean Netherlands
and the Netherlands together should draft an action plan that will further foster the equality and unity between the two parts.
There should be access to European union funding and related subsidy programmes for the Caribbean part of the Kingdom. “By working together between the countries, these funds can be used to give an impulse to social-economic and cultural development of the Dutch Caribbean, especially in the green and digital transition. We work together on a Kingdom level to combat the adverse effects of climate change in the Dutch Caribbean,” it was stated in the Volt programme.
The Forum for Democracy party FvD in its “Programme of Hope, Optimism and Recovery” said that it wants to maintain and strengthen the historic relation of the Netherlands with the six Dutch Caribbean islands. “Forum for Democracy is proud of our history and wants to keep the historic ties with our overseas territories.”
According to the FvD, the economic possibilities are broad, because of the strategic location of the islands, which opens the large markets in South America. “The Dutch Caribbean could become the Florida of the Netherlands.” In that relation, there would be zero tolerance for corruption, self-enrichment and abuse of power on the islands.
The BIJ1 party has an extended section about the Kingdom in its draft election programme under the heading “Radical equality and recovery in the Kingdom” with a long list of wishes and proposals with the objective of creating more equality, prosperity for all and a Kingdom free from poverty, racism and other forms of suppression.
“A new reality in which the after-effects of colonialism and slavery are broken down. A new form of collaboration with the six islands in which their interests come first. A new relation based on anti-colonialism and radical equality,” stated BIJ1. BIJ1 wants the Netherlands to restore the damage of the slavery past, and to give special attention for mental decolonisation.
In restoring the “colonial damage,” BIJ1 wants to give the islands the power of self-determination, whereby all their debts annulled and the Netherlands “no longer dictates” how the islands are governed.
In the opinion of BIJ1, the Kingdom Charter has to be reformed with true equality being the point of departure of a new Charter. The Kingdom Council of Ministers is abolished and replaced by a new form of Kingdom-broad consultation.
Besides implementing a social minimum in Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, there needs to be special attention for eradicating poverty in Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten, so everyone in the Kingdom has a dignified existence.