Published On: Thu, Jan 26th, 2017

The fault of the Dutch

An attempt by Aruban attorneys Lincoln Gomez and Andin Bikker to get voting rights in Dutch parliamentary elections for Dutch citizens living in the Caribbean countries Aruba, Curacao and St. Maarten has failed at the Council of State. Is that good news or bad news?

We’ve always thought that the best place to exercise your political rights is the place where you actually live. We have some sympathy for the argument that the Kingdom Council of Ministers are often a nuisance to the Caribbean countries, but one may well wonder how much political influence could come from voting rights for Dutch citizens living in the Caribbean.

Gomez and Bikker have calculated the effect to be, if we remember correctly, potentially two seats in the Dutch Parliament.

That is of course a fata morgana, because it assumes that all potential voters in the Caribbean would vote the same way.

If you established a party for senior citizens in the Netherlands – which has actually happened – you cannot expect that all seniors are going to vote for that party either.

So if the political impact is close to zip, why bother at all? It is true that the Kingdom Council of Ministers is dominated by the Dutch government. The ministers plenipotentiary are there for mere decorum and for the exchange of information. Their voices may be heard, but the Dutch ministers will seldom really listen.

There are simpler ways to make the Caribbean voice heard in the Netherlands: through the media and through social media. You don’t need elections for it and you are able to get your message across any time of the day or night.

Will that make a difference? We don’t think so. The way the Dutch are dragging their feet with the dispute regulation – to name just one example – makes clear that there is no intention on the other side of the ocean to give up any power to the former colonies.

In St. Maarten it has already dawned on local politicians that they should not expect anything from the Netherlands and that they will have to deal with all issues on their own.

And years ago we already learned in English class (and that was in the Netherlands): the fault of the Dutch is giving too little and asking too much.