Many thanks for the math lessons in The Daily Herald’s Wednesday paper by Glenn Schmidt. I acknowledge that I made a huge miscalculation. The exact percentage was 29.3 instead of 26 of the eligible voters, who voted in 2014 for “autonomous territory within the Kingdom of The Netherlands”, which means he is almost correct with his 29.5%.
The point, however, remains that this is still not exactly a majority. Still 71.7% of the eligible voters did not vote for Schmidt’s preferred status. I also agree where he states that in a democracy the result of an election is decided by the voters who show up, and non-voters do not count. This, however, is not applicable to a referendum, where there is always a requirement of a minimum voter turn-out to validate the outcome. I believe that he is informed enough to know that.
I wonder why then does he omit to explain this to the people? Is it maybe because it does not serve his purpose? Our island council in the referendum ordinance established the minimum percentage of voter turn-out at 60, while only 45 per cent turned out. This makes the outcome invalid. A decision whereby the Island Council declares an, by its own criteria invalid outcome valid is in my book unheard of and arbitrary to say the least. Also, referring to the outcome of previous referenda to defend one’s point that the people now voted for autonomy makes no sense at all.
Taking into consideration the criteria of the referendum ordinance, the people did not speak out in favour of any alternate option, neither did they speak out against the present status as Public Entity. Schmidt is also correct when he says that I favour status quo and I do agree that this option received less votes than his preferred choice. However, seeing the invalidity of the referendum, there is no other option than to maintain the present status, which as one can imagine, the DP and I together with many others, are basically content with.
I am a little disappointed that Schmidt did not address the other points I made in my letter. I can understand though that he doesn’t want to touch the unlawful entering of an agreement by the commissioner of Constitutional Affairs. He himself has conducted similar practices in the time when he was commissioner. To use his own word “conveniently”, he avoids to comment on this, as well as the fact that this government slipped in the option of “Free Association”. This indeed is a recognized status by the UN, but did not appear on the ballot of the 2014 referendum. Using as an excuse that the DP government agreed to the present status without consulting the people sounds like a tit for tat.
By the way, to be exact, it was not just the DP government at the time. It was the entire island council who made that decision. This included Clyde van Putten with his PLP party, who is now one of the leading instigators behind a movement that is using the invalid outcome of the referendum to reach its goals.