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  Yves Bourel has been living in St. Barts for more than 10 years. He is an experienced journalist and has been the editor-in-chief for local newspapers. Currently, he is one of the radio announcers at Radio St. Barth for whom he covers political news and is presenting the local news every 2 weeks for St. Barths Online!
  Mai 2, 2002 - Issue # 18
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  Specific fiscal regime petition signed by 3040
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   The petition prepared by the St. Barths Association of the Friends of Sweden (ASBAS) and co-sponsored by the island's elected leaders and various associations proved an outstanding success. The number of signatures, 3040, represents nearly half of the island's resident population of 7000, and 84% of its registered voters, a far higher percentage than voter turnout figures for either municipal or national elections. The petition was open for signing to any island resident over 18, foreign residents included.
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  "Operation Petition," an inherent part of the awareness campaign launched in February (read article March 15, 2002), aimed to publicly solicit the winners of the presidential primaries -the Gaullist contender, Chirac, and the extreme-right leader, LePen- to officially recognize the specific fiscal rights that the Franco-Swedish treaty granted the island and to observe a fiscal moratorium until a project for statutory evolution can be fully elaborated.
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  Island residents were given two weeks to rally around ASBAS' political call-to-arms and show the nation's future president that St. Barths residents are serious, and united, when it comes to defending their fiscal rights. Despite the political timidity or apathy that is often manifested when central island issues are being discussed, this time, residents responded, and they responded in number, surpassing the 2,500 signature-goal that was set for Operation Petition.
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  Last Saturday, ASBAS spokesmen interviewed on Radio St. Barths congratulated residents for their coherence, and told the noon audience that the public awareness campaign was starting to yield results, especially after the report written by six law professors (three French and three Swedish) hired by ABSBAS to legally analyze the international treaty, was published. The team of legal experts found that the 1877 Franco-Swedish treaty, does, in fact, provide the island with a specific fiscal regime. Since the ASBAS sent the report to the country's key policy makers, it has received more than 100 replies. Some of them, like the letter from Alain Juppe, former French prime minister, have been particularly encouraging.
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  Striking the iron while it is hot might be-under other circumstances-an intelligent strategy, but the association has wisely opted to wait until the agitation of the presidential primaries subsides. "We'll send the results of the petition once the presidential and legislative elections are over," said Daniel Blanchard, the association's spokesman.
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  In the meanwhile, local leaders are calling for St. Barth's voting public to go to the polls on May 5 and support Chirac. Without mincing words, local public figures like the mayor, the island's regional and general counselors, are not only asking their constituents to vote for the candidate who has always shown his support for the island and its political agenda, but to use their vote to combat the spread of Front National's popularity locally. That the extreme right has succeeded in getting its candidate, Jean-Marie LePen past the primaries, has sent shock waves through France and abroad. Locally, the FN candidate received a whopping 20% of the local vote, the highest percentage in the entire region of Guadeloupe, where, in comparison, he received a mere 4% . Elected officials do not want St. Barths to be affiliated with the extreme right, or the policies of xenophobia and racism with which it is largely associated, and are asking voters to do some long-range thinking before casting their vote on May 5.

  More to come,

  Yves Bourel


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