July 05, 2012 6:09 PM
The handling of the proposed change to the Dutch Constitution to anchor the “public entity” status of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba in the Second Chamber will proceed as planned despite the objections of the island governments.
A request by the Christian Union party (CU) to have the law proposal declared “controversial,” meaning that it would be placed on hold until after the September 12 Parliamentary election in The Netherlands was rejected by the Second Chamber on Tuesday. The CU couldn’t muster enough support in the Second Chamber for its proposal. Besides the CU, only the democratic D66 party and the green left party GroenLinks voted in favour of the proposal initiated by Member of Parliament (MP) Cynthia Ortega-Martijn of the CU.
Ortega-Martijn wants to delay the proposed amendment to the Constitution because in her opinion changing the Constitution at this point to secure the constitutional status of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba is against agreements with the islands. The island governments have voiced their objections to the process to amend the Constitution at this time. The agreement with the islands says that their constitutional status would be definitely secured after the general evaluation in 2015, five years after they became Dutch “public entities.”
Dutch caretaker Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Liesbeth Spies sees no reason to slow down the legislation process. In a letter to the Second Chamber in which she responded to written questions by the various parties in Parliament about the proposal, she stated that the proposal to amend the Constitution contained various elements. One of those elements is the right to vote. She stated that it was important to change article 55 of the Constitution to enable the Members of the Island Councils to take part in the process to elect Members of the First Chamber. Without a change to the Constitution it is impossible to arrange the voting right of the Island Councils. “Until that is arranged, residents of the public entities don’t have any influence on the composition of the First Chamber.”
Spies pointed out that changing the Constitution encompasses a long road of two readings which necessitate the support of two consecutive Second Chamber terms. “I consider it of great importance to handle the first reading as soon as possible. It is explicitly not the intention of government to anticipate the results of the evaluation.”
The Minister explained that after the evaluation, it could be decided whether to maintain the “public entity” status or to change this into a status of municipality. “This change to the Constitution makes it possible to choose for another constitutional status than that of public entity.” Joining an existing municipality in The Netherlands is not in the best interest of the islands, stated Spies. “That would not do justice to the special administrative relations of Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba. This would have meant the end of their existence as independent administrative units. That would be against the agreements and would not do justice to the identity of the islands. Joining a Dutch municipality would also encounter practical issues considering the large distance to The Netherlands.”
A second initiative of the CU party to place a law proposal on the list of “controversial” items – in this case the proposal to amend the Law on Dutch Citizenship to restrict dual citizenship – was rejected as well. D66 and Groen- Links voted along with CU, but that was by far not enough for a majority.
Source: sabanews.nl / The Daily Herald