December 5, 2003 - #11
The informational campaign organized by the local potiticians concerning the political evolution of the island changed gear , and since Monday, November 24 has been more of a real electoral campaign. In fact, as part of the referendum planned for December 7, as for a regular election, there is a 12-day campaign that precedes the vote. Two groups sanctioned by the commission of control are campaigning. The first "Saint Barth Going Forward" includes the mayor and the current municipal council members that were on Bruno Magras' slate in the last municipal elections. The "Group For Statutory Reconnaissance" includes the four municipal council members that were elected from the opposition slates in March 2001. Both groups are calling for the voters to say "yes" to the following question: Do you approve of the plan to create, in Saint-Barthelemy, an Overseas Territorial Collective as per article 74 of the Constitution, replacing the current municipality, department, and region, and which will be defined by specific laws giving the collectivity certain responsibilities for self-regulation?
Posters have been put up on official sign boards near the polling offices in Gustavia, Lorient, and Colombier, and all registered voters have been mailed an envelope containing statements papers from each group. Every day, on Radio Saint-Barth, various people have been interviewd and explain their decision to vote "yes" for the political evolution of the island. Even Rémy de Haenen who has lived on the island of Santo Domingo for the past decade, appeared on December 3 to lend his support to the group "Saint Barth Going Forward." This former pilot was also the mayor of Saint-Barth from 1966 to 1977 and was the first to advocate a special political status for Saint-Barth, "an idea quite difficult to consider in my day," he told us.
The only person proposing a "no" vote is regional council representative Nordleing Magras who is convinced that the separation from Guadelouope, as per article 73, would suffice. He has also denounced the injustice of the indirect taxation that will be instituted if the overseas collectivity is created. He has also turned in his card from the UMP poltiical party, as a result of the actions of French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin.
This Sunday, December 7, the voters of Saint-Barth are asked to vote twice, in two different polling places to avoid confusion. The first ballot is for or against the evolution of Saint-Barth. The second ballot is to determine the evolution of the archipelago of Gaudeloupe into a territorial collectivity, as per article 73 of the Constitution, with the possibility to create one joint assembly to replace the departmental and regional assemblies that exist now. Rseults will be posted in St. Barths Online on Sunday night.
More to Come