Local News
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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.
  November 4, 2003 - #9
  Political status of Saint-Barth: Vote to take place on December 7
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   Saint Barth has been holding its breath for the decision of the French President since last October 8 when Brigitte Girardin, French Overseas Minister, suggested to Jacques Chirac that a vote be held on December 7 to decide the political future of the island. On October 29, Chirac signed the decree confirming the date. On Sunday, December 7, the 3,698 citizens on the island who are registered to vote will say “yea” or “nay” to the following question: “Do you approve, as per article 74 of the Constitution, the creation in Saint-Barthélemy of an Overseas Collectivity (COM) that would replace the municipality, the department, and the region, and whose status will be defined by a law that outlines the specific powers of the collectivity, and the conditions under which its laws and regulations will be enforced?"
   During the past month and in spite of the fact that the Mayor did not think it always useful, the local politicians decided to organize a marketing campaign. The goal of the campaign is to educate the population as to the consequences if the island changes from a municipality to a collectivity. Former mayors Charles Querrard and Daniel Blanchard, as well as Nicole Gréaux, a teacher at the junior high school and a deputy mayor, and Christian Lédée, former departmental representative and principal of the junior high, all offered their opinions on Radio Saint Barth. Since October 15, every Saturday between 12:30pm and 2:00pm, a large percentage of residents heard the interviews on the radio. There were also interviews in the daily paper “Today,” a new, free source of local information (two pages printed on both sides at St-Barth Offset).
   On November 1, it was notary Maître Balzame who went on the radio to explain the consequences concerning the payment of transfer taxes and inheritance taxes if the COM passes. Although there are still some people who still doubt the merit of a political evolution, it seems as if the majority of the population is already convinced of its validity. The vote on December 7 should be just a formality that will result in the formation of the new Overseas Collectivity that will take on responsibility that to date were those of the federal, regional, and departmental governments.
   The local officials will then create new rules that cover certain areas (such as urban planning, taxation, culture, and management of the port, airport, and the island’s schools). This will be possible as soon as the new law officially creating the new legal entity is voted on by the Parliament, but that might not take place until the end of 2004 or the beginning of 2005.
   On December 7, the voters of Saint-Barth (like all the citizens registered to vote throughout the islands of Guadeloupe) will also be asked to vote “for” or “against” the creation of a single local government for Guadeloupe to replace the current department and region. This first Sunday of December promises to be an exceptional day in many ways, and especially as this is the first time in the history of the island that the voters will vote two times on the same day.
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  More to Come
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  Cécile Lucot
  
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