Oranjestad, St. Eustatius- A poll executed by Linkels & Partners and The BES-reporter on the political situation on St. Eustatius has yielded lots of interesting information.
One of the key findings of the poll is that the Progressive Labour Party (PLP) would once again emerge as the biggest party on the island, if elections were held today. Another key finding is that, despite criticism and the intervention by political The Hague, Clyde van Putten would also once again emerge as the biggest vote-getter.
Interestingly, deputy Government Commissioner Alida Francis would emerge as the second biggest vote-getter -after PLP leader Clyde van Putten- should she participate in an election.
The results of the poll will be presented in several articles, each focusing on a different theme. In our first article, we will be looking at parties and political (or public) figures and probable voting behavior.
Poll and respondents
The poll designed by Linkels & Partners consisted of 20 questions, most of which were forced-choice or multiple choice. Various questions provided the option of motivating the answer given. The poll was filled out by a total of 119 respondents. 6 of these respondents were disqualified for not meeting the criteria put in place, namely:
- Being a (current) resident of St. Eustatius
- Living abroad but born on St. Eustatius
- Having lived at least 5 years on the island at some point in time
The results are therefore based on a total of 113 respondents, of which 87 live on St. Eustatius, 12 are born on St. Eustatius but currently not residing on the island and 14 living abroad, but who have lived on St. Eustatius for more than 5 years.
The poll does not pretend to be statistically significant or meet all criteria for a scientific study. However, best practices have been applied in both the setup and analysis of the generated data. Although not necessarily (completely) representative of the real situation and feelings among the population, the poll does provide important indications. Relative to the population of St. Eustatius (3,138 CBS, 2019) the residents in the poll represent about 2.8% of the total population on the island.
If an election were held today, the PLP would be the biggest party with 25.7% of the votes. The second biggest party would be the Democratic Party (DP) with 14.2% of the votes. 6.2% of voters would vote for the Blanco List of Glenn Schmidt and less than 1% would vote for the UPC. The biggest part of the electorate would however, under present conditions, not vote at all (36.3%), while 16.8% would want to vote for a new party or a new group. Many respondents said they would like to see a new group of (young) politicians and ‘fresh faces’.
If the group of non-voters and a potential new party are excluded, the division would be as follows:
- PLP: 54.7%
- DP: 30.1%
- Blanco List: 13.2%
- UPC: 2%
Respondents were asked to indicate their personal ‘top-3’ of persons they would want to vote for. The list includes names of public figures who are no active politicians, and on the other hand does not include certain names of public figures who can be qualified as active or recent politicians. Most notably the names of Ernie Simmons, Derrick Simmons, Astrid Mc.Kenzie-Tatem and Glenn Schmidt were not present on this list.
It is important to note that respondents got to see the list of politicians in a completely random way, to ensure that the number of times the politician’s name was picked, was not due to a ‘low’ or ‘high’ placement on the list.
The top 5 of most popular politicians consists of:
- Clyde van Putten: mentioned in 37.2% of top-3 picks (42 respondents)
- Alida Francis: mentioned in 30.1% of top-3 picks (34 respondents)
- Rueben Merkman: mentioned in 27.4% of top-3 picks (31 respondents)
- Charles Woodley: mentioned in 27.4% of top-3 picks (31 respondents)
- Koos Sneek: mentioned in 21.2% in top-3 picks (24 respondents)
The politicians mentioned in our list, which were picked the least often as part of a top-3 pick were: Millicent Lijfrock (4 respondents), Reginald Zaandam (5 respondents), Winston Fleming (5 respondents), Eric Henriquez (7 respondents) and Adelka Spanner (7 respondents).
Question number 18: “Do you have other persons in mind you would like to see on a political list? Please fill out the name(s) of that/those persons”, yielded a list of no less than 25 names, not mentioned in our list of past and current politicians.
The 5 persons most frequently named on a spontaneous basis were Glenn Schmidt, Xiomara Balentina, Rechelline Leerdam, Astrid Mc. Kenzie-Tatem and Derrick Simmons. All 5 persons were mentioned with the same frequency.
Gradual return to democracy?
A question also included in the poll, was the question to which degree respondents agreed to the fact that a return to democracy should be a gradual return. A convincing majority of respondents (58.4% or 66 respondents) indicate that they do in fact agree with a gradual return to full democracy.
Interestingly enough, the fact that the island council will not have its full powers restored, would at the same time make it less likely for nearly half(!) of the respondents in the poll to actually go out and vote in such an election. 25% describe themselves as likely or very likely to vote and a nearly similar percentage indicated that they don’t know as of yet if they would vote or not.
Other results and themes
Over the coming days, we will continue to provide information generated by the poll. Themes to be addressed are the popularity of Government Commissioners Van Rij and Francis, numbers about the satisfaction of respondents on the way local government has handled the Covid-19 crisis and the degree to which respondents agree(d) with the political intervention out of The Hauge.