By Harald Linkels
While it is positive and encouraging news that St. Eustatius will be represented in Dutch Parliamentary elections by no less than four(!) local candidates, it seems that especially the Ubuntu party with three Statians on it -Kenneth Cuvelay, Charles Woodley and Carlos Lopes- has a long way to go when it comes to PR & Communication.
So far, very few people have heard of the Ubuntu (Official: Ubuntu Connected Front) party to start with, let alone the fact that the list has three Statians running on it. While a handful of people on St. Eustatius may be aware of the fact, on Bonaire and Statia the whole Ubuntu party and the fact of ‘BES-candidates’ playing an important role in the party is virtually unknown.
So far, no press statements have been put out, and hardly anything can be found about the whole venture.
While many on the island seem to love criticizing Koos Sneek, who is also running for Dutch Parliament on behalf of the BES-islands, one must give credit where credit is due. Not only did Sneek put out a press release out to notify voters that he would be running on the list of the Christen Democratisch Appèl (CDA), but he is regularly posting ads on Facebook and in the various prominent Facebook groups Statia knows. So far, none could be seen from Ubuntu or even the three candidates who live on-island.
Postulating and running is nothing. Communicating a clear message as to what the party stands for and what it is hoping to achieve is everything!
If no thought was given to the communication process or the set-up and execution of a campaign, the postulation of the four Statian candidates seems nothing more than a frivolous act and a PR stunt -albeit not a very effective one so far. Without a clear plan, it cannot be seen serious attempt to make any inroads into Dutch politics, or as an effort to truly represent Statia’s (or the BES-island’s) agenda and action points more prominently, than is the case now.
As things stand, very few people will be inclined to vote for Ubuntu. Not only is the party new and mostly unknown to many voters in The Netherlands: It is a total unknown on especially Bonaire and Saba. The question then is why people will even consider voting for Ubuntu if they know nothing about the party, what it stands for, or what it is campaigning on?
While the multi-ethnic party could very well be refreshing, appealing and relevant to voters on the BES-islands -or even the broader spectrum of Dutch Caribbean voters for that matter- there is a saying in Dutch that ‘Onbekend maakt onbemind’. Translation: You don’t love what you don’t know.
If Ubuntu and the three Statian candidates cannot do a better job in communicating and campaigning then they have done so far, chances are that the whole exercise will not even begin to make a dent in public opinion or show anything close to a ‘clear message’ from these islands to Dutch Politics. If that happens, the whole exercise could be considered nothing more than a ‘waste of effort’.