We need a Referendum Law before it’s too late


18E796AA-3EB5-4644-9BAE-86140CA9CD8FIn these testing times for Curaçao more people, many of them the until-recently staunch believers of our current status within the Kingdom of The Netherlands, are uttering: “Let Holland take over” whilst a smaller and sometimes radicalized group favors independence to get rid of any type of Dutch oversight.

I will not discuss the merits or demerits of either side. We must realize however that those who believe that a constitutional change is not possible without consulting the population i.e. a referendum, are deeply misguided. Simply put, we don’t have a legally defined referendum process and are at the mercy of politicians. What’s needed is a referendum ordinance that is transparent, not open to multiple interpretations and certainly not prone to manipulation.

We need to determine what type of referendums we want: 1. the mandatory referendum i.e. if a proposal passes, the Government or appropriate authority is compelled to implement it: 2. the optional referendum whereby the consequences of the vote may or may not be legally binding or 3. both the mandatory and optional referendums.

We need to determine how a referendum may be initiated: (1) the legislative referendum whereby Parliament refers a measure to the voters for their approval; (2) the popular referendum, a measure that appears on the ballot as a result of a voter petition (based on a minimum of valid signatures), or (3) both the legislative and the popular referendums.

Very important is also to determine: (1) when a referendum is valid, i.e. establish the minimum amount of valid votes; (2) what margins should be upheld for a proposal to pass (simple majority, 2/3 or 3/4 of the votes) and (3) who can cast his/her ballot.

Since 2010 we have seen a dangerous trend to weaken democratic institutions in our country, a rise of populism and conscious efforts to repress unbiased news and information. We cannot afford not having a referendum law that is transparent and able to withstand political manipulation and bullying. It’s very important that the referendum process be in the hands of an independent electorate authority as I proposed back in 2012. Let’s take action before it’s too late.

Willemstad, Curaçao

Author: alexdavidrosaria

Alex Rosaria is from Curaçao. He has a MBA from University of Iowa. He was Member of Parliament, Minister of Economic Affairs, State Secretary of Finance and United Nations Development Programme Officer in Africa and Central America. He is an independent consultant active in Asia and the Pacific.

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