The Chance of a Lifetime
On the 7th of December 2003, the electorate of St. Barths will go to the polls and express their will on the subject of a revision of the island's political relationship with France.
The fact that they have been invited to do so is a miracle in itself.
Their choice will be between keeping things the way they are - according to France's definition of the way they are - and shifting the position of St. Barths in the outline of the government of France is such a way that more local autonomy will be gained and a number of perennially contentious issues - especially regarding the fiscal obligations of the citizenry - will be resolved.
For the uninitiated, it must be noted that France's definition of the way things are has been kept at arm's length for decades by the adroitness of successive local administrators, but the last lines of defence are now crumbling, and, should Paris have its way, the full weight of distant control and exploitation would descend upon the place.
The better choice seems obvious, but it would be foolhardy to underestimate the blind loyalty of many recent immigrants from France to their Motherland, and the inclination of many local folk to automatically object to whatever the Mayor thinks is a good idea.
Here, on the hill, we can only hope that the growing number of newcomers from France will exhibit the political apathy characteristic of those they've left behind, and that local folk will do what they've always done in a crisis: forget their personal differences, roll up their sleeves, and pull heartily together.
More to come,