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By Cécile Lucot
    Cécile Lucot has been living in St. Barths for 9 years. Originally from Bordeaux, this professional journalist has been the editor-in-chief of St-Barth Magazine for 6 years. She is he press agent for Jeet Singh and his rock group Dragonfly. She writes regularly for regional magazines such as Mer Caraïbes and Tropical, and once or twice a month presents a synthese of the local news on St. Barths Online.
  October 16, 2003 - #8
  Political update: Brigitte Girardin suggests a referendum in St Barths on December 7, 2003
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  It was on October 8, at the Council of Ministers meeting, that the French Overseas Minister suggested December 7, 2004 as the date that the people of Martinique, Saint Martin, and Saint Barthélemy would vote on their special political status issues.
  This proposal made to French President Jacques Chirac is an important step before Chirac finalizes the date for these local referendums. In the meantime, the government has to provide its opinion on the official text submitted to the voters on each island. For Saint Barth, this document was created and voted for unanimously by the Municipal Council on August 8, 2003, and submitted to Brigitte Girardin. After an opinion is rendered, the Council of Ministers sends an official request to the President so that he can make his final decision. This is expected to happen before the end of October.
   In Saint-Barthélemy, as in Saint-Martin, the population will be asked to vote, as requested by the Municipal Council, on the individual political evolution for the island according to Article 74 of the Constitution. Before the voting takes place in Saint-Barth and Saint-Martin, le French government will make an official announcement and then a debate, thus respecting the constitutional requirements that must be following when a municipality envisions changing its political status. In Martinique et la Guadeloupe, this is not required by the Constitution.
   The voters in Martinique must decide if they desire the creation of a single collectivity that would replace the current departmental and regional status as per article 73 of the Constitution. As for Guadeloupe, le Government was waiting for a decision by the local politicians before announcing that a vote would take place there on the same day as on the other islands of the French Antilles In a meeting on October 11, the departmental and regional representatives in Guadeloupe voted by a large majority to hold a referendum to determine the view of the population on the creation of a single collectivity to replace the department and region as per article 73 of the Constitution.
   In an interview in France Antilles, Brigitte Girardin stated, “the official proposition made to the President of the Republic, in view of organizing the local referendums on December 7, should take place before the end of October.” She also stressed that the Government and the Parliament will be watching the level of voter participation: in other words, a NO vote will kill the proposal, but a YES vote will not necessarily pass if the percentage of voters casting a vote is too low. So it is important for the voters to get out to the polls in large numbers and take advantage of this opportunity to vote on an issue that concerns everyone directly, not only in terms of their daily life, but also in terms of creating a new, single collectivity in St-Barth, a question that has been on the political radar on the island for over 20 years.
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  More to Come
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