Governance & Integrity

Bonaire and Saba Happy with Respective Island Governors

Island Governnors meeting in Saba
Island Governors Rijna (l) and Johnshon (m) seen here together with former Government Commissioner on St. Eustatius, Mike Franco. Archive BES-Reporter

Kralendijk/The Bottom- Both were recently appointed for a second 6-year term by the Crown, and both are quite popular among the population: Governor Edison Rijna from Bonaire and Governor Jonathan Johnson from Saba.

A recent opinion poll on Bonaire and Saba has gauged exactly how popular both governors are.


Saba’s Island Governor Jonathan Johnson got the highest marks in the recent surveys executed by consultancy organization Linkels & Partners. On Saba, 46.5% of respondents described themselves as being ‘very happy’ with Johnson’s performance, while 27.5% rated themselves as ‘happy’.

When asked to provide a report card figure between 1 and 10 expressing their level of satisfaction with the Governor’s performance, Johnson scored an average 8 out of 10.

Asked to motivate their score, various respondents remarked that Johnson was a friendly person, who was always willing to listen. Various respondents also pointed out that Johnson had performed well during the Covid-crisis. In a critical sense however, respondents point to the fact that Johnson could at times be more decisive as a leader or just -in general- show more leadership than he normally does.


Although still quite positive, Governor Edison Rijna’s scores are somewhat lower than is the case with Johnson. Contrary to the case on Saba where a 5-point rating scale was used, the survey in Bonaire asked participants to rate Rijna on a 3-point rating scale, namely ‘happy or very happy’, ‘neutral’ or ‘unhappy or very unhappy’.

60.2% of respondents described themselves as happy or very happy with Rijna’s performance, 18.6% as neutral and 21.2% as unhappy. When asked to provide a report card figure between 1 and 10 expressing their level of satisfaction with the Governor’s performance, Rijna scored an average of 6.4 out of 10; however, most respondents rated him with the number 7.

When asked to motivate their answers, respondents varied widely in the opinion expressed about Rijna. Most respondents appreciate the fact that Rijna performed well during the Coronacrisis and the fact that he is friendly.

In a critical sense, quite some respondents point to the fact that Rijna could -in general- be more decisive, that they expect him to be more independent from the Commissioners on the Executive Council and that he could be more self-assured when communicating and especially in public speaking.

Survey background

The results on Bonaire are based on 644 respondents, or about 4.6% of eligible voters on the island (2019 figures). On Saba 69 persons filled out the survey, representing about 6.4% of of eligible voters (2019).

While in terms of size both surveys can be considered as relatively big compared to the total population of eligible voters, it cannot be guaranteed that the outcome is truly representative for the actual feelings among the total population.

“Of course with online polling you don’t reach everybody and the approach has certain flaws from a scientific point of view” explained psychologist Harald Linkels, who is the driving force behind the surveys.

“Having said that, due to the size of our samples relative to the total population, the type of questions asked and the software used to analyze results, we are confident that the outcomes provide important and indications about opinions in the total population”, Linkels explained.

Linkels also said he found the surveys important for another reason. “Oftentimes we see on our islands that a single person or small groups are very vocal in expressing certain opinions, which may not necessarily represent what the bigger group or the total population thinks. By means of our surveys we gauge and quantify in an objective way what bigger groups of respondents feel on a number of issues”. Linkels said that his organization would continue with the execution of surveys on various topics.

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