A stronger, prosperous Kingdom elements in election programmes

Various smaller parties in the Dutch Second Chamber of Parliament dedicate attention to relations within the Kingdom in their draft 2023­2027 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, Curacao 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, Curacao and St. Maarten, so every­one in the Kingdom has a dignified existence.

The Daily Herald.

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