MercoPress, en Español

Montevideo, October 26th 2016 - 00:29 UTC

Falklands united as a political community thus a ‘micro-nation’ says SAC

Tuesday, July 16th 2013 - 05:23 UTC
Full article 68 comments
St Helenians, Chileans and 18 Argentines figured in the Falklands electoral register (Photo AP) St Helenians, Chileans and 18 Argentines figured in the Falklands electoral register (Photo AP)

The, “orthodox,” view that the Falkland Islands referendum was little more than British voters choosing to remain British, as pedalled by the Argentine government, is not enough to explain the result of the Falkland Islands referendum argues Professor Peter Willetts in his ‘A Report on the Referendum on the Political Status of the Falkland Islands’.

Professor Willetts who was in the Islands to witness the referendum on behalf of the South Atlantic Council, SAC, states in his report: “New tables from the Falklands census show that 11.0 per cent of the referendum electorate was neither born in the Islands nor in Britain. Almost certainly, some 100 to 150 foreign-born individuals, or perhaps more, voted ‘Yes’.” In a variety of international forums the Argentine government has dismissed the referendum claiming the Falklands people are nothing more than a British ‘implanted’ population and therefore not entitled to the right of self determination, as they are guaranteed to vote for British sovereignty.

Professor Willetts says the idea of holding a referendum was the Islanders’ response to the increasing pressure they faced from Argentine President Cristina Fernandez, pursuing a sovereignty claim over the Falklands, but, he concludes the President achieved the direct opposite of her intentions.

Instead of weakening and isolating the Falkland Islanders, they were strengthened and given a stronger basis for appealing to the global political community for support, argue Professor Willetts.

“Ironically, President Fernandez de Kirchner has guaranteed that there will be no settlement of the dispute during her presidency and she has made it much more difficult for her successors to have any possibility of being trusted as potential negotiating partners. The Islanders have become so united as a political community they should be called a ‘micro-nation’.”

Professor Willetts agrees with the official Referendum International Observation Mission that procedures for a free and secret ballot were scrupulously followed and the result accurately represented the collective choice of the electorate. It cannot be reasonably argued by the Argentine Government that there was any unfair bias against their sovereignty claim.

However, he suggests the Falkland Islands Government (FIG) information about the referendum, sent out to every voter, was “highly prejudicial against voting No to support independence.”

The three No votes are widely believed to have been pro-independence and not pro-Argentine. Professor Willetts does not support independence or any other specific option for the future of the Falklands, but he recognises the referendum result has forcefully asserted the right of the Falkland Islanders to have their wishes respected. The Islanders will have to be participants if any negotiations about the future of the Islands are resumed, he says.

He adds that among the whole census population of 2,840 people, 8.9% do not have British citizenship; 24.8% were neither born in the Islands nor born in the United Kingdom; and 24.0% do not chose British or Falkland Islander, when asked to “describe their national identity”.

These figures cover both people with Falkland Islands Status (FIS), who could vote, and immigrants on work or residence permits, who could not vote.
He explains it is not necessary to be a British citizen to have the vote. New immigrants, who have been in the Islands long enough, are able to apply to belong to the community, to gain FIS and to vote.

Professor Willetts has invented the term ‘Incorporated Islanders’, to cover people who have been granted Falkland Islands Status, who were neither born in the Falklands nor born in the UK. He then asked the census office for an extra table counting the number of Incorporated Islanders. The answer was 182 people from 58 other countries provided 11% of the referendum electorate.

Given eight per cent of the electorate did not vote, then simple arithmetic proves that a minimum of three per cent or at least 45 individuals who voted Yes were foreign-born.
The largest minorities were St Helenians and Chileans, he notes, but there were also 18 Argentines on the electoral register. These new Islanders are committed to their new country. Over 100 have also chosen to become British citizens, alongside the 42 St Helenians voters who are British.

Only one third of the foreign born Islanders chose their former country as their national identity in the census and two thirds have changed to being an Islander or British or having joint identity.

Professor Willetts deduces, not just 45, but most of the 182 Incorporated Islanders voted ‘Yes’ with the same enthusiasm as the longer established population.

Professor Willetts is a founder member of the South Atlantic Council, set up in December 1983, to ‘promote better communication and understanding between Argentina, Britain and Falkland Islanders’. (PN).-


Top Comments

Disclaimer & comment rules
  • Anglotino

    This article only confirms two points that I have made more than once:
    * The Argentine president has done more to advance the Falkland
    Island's cause than any other politician.
    * That the Falkland Islands are a nation.

    Independence in 2033 I reckon. A new Commonwealth Realm.

    Jul 16th, 2013 - 06:50 am 0
  • RedBaron

    The “implanted” accusation from the Argies is one of the things I think the FIG should work on to dispel.
    Having been based in the Islands for an extended period, I can say that there is no question of an implanted population. It is impossible to accuse third, fourth and up to ninth generation residents of being implanted. Those new arrivals (first and second generation) who I knew and met were moving to the Islands after applying for jobs freely and individually - mostly free enterprise positions rather than Government inspired.
    If there really was some sort of dastardly plan to import people to live on the Islands against their will, it certainly is not very successful because the population of the Islands has hardly moved upwards in all the recent years and I know of no scheme or recruiting drive (nor is there any points system similar to Australia or Canada for immigration) to encourage or otherwise incent people to move there. Indeed, the opposite may be seen to be true - it's very difficult to get into the Falklands unless you have a job before you want to arrive.
    The myth that there is some over-arching design to populate the Islands with people through inducement or coercion is simply not true and should be banished immediately.

    Jul 16th, 2013 - 07:54 am 0
  • Benson

    CFK never really wanted sovereignty over the Falklands, she just wants a political whipping boy. I'm fairly sure that even she could see that her aggressive stance would of made it impossible for the UK government to entertain the idea of handing over sovereignty. It whipped up a bit of nationalism and won her a bit of political weight. If she had managed to get the Falklands she would have been a national heroine and if not she could scream about British imperialism, a no lose situation really. I think she may have overplayed it though, the worse the situation gets in Argentina the more people are questioning her motives over the Falklands and the more people are questioning the claim.

    Jul 16th, 2013 - 07:55 am 0
Read all comments

Commenting for this story is now closed.
If you have a Facebook account, become a fan and comment on our Facebook Page!