It is votes like that on the status of the Falkland Islands that remind us why the secret ballot was invented. Of the 1,517 who took part in the referendum (a turnout of 92 per cent), 1,513 (99.8 per cent) voted in favour of remaining an overseas territory of the UK and just three (0.2 per cent) voted against. It was a result that would make even Kim Jong-un blush. Asked who the “Falklands three” might be, one islander told the Guardian’s Jonathan Watts: “no one will ever admit it”.
The British government, unsurprisingly, has been quick to trumpet the result as proof that Argentina should relinquish any claim to sovereignty over “Las Malvinas”. David Cameron said that the Kirchner government should take “careful note” of the result, while William Hague said: “I welcome today’s result, which demonstrates more clearly than ever the Falkland Islanders’ wish to remain an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom.
“We have always been clear that we believe in the rights of the Falklands people to determine their own futures and to decide on the path they wish to take. It is only right that, in the 21st century, these rights are respected.
“All countries should accept the results of this referendum and support the Falkland Islanders as they continue to develop their home and their economy. I wish them every success in doing so.”
Kirchner, however, is in no mood to back down. Following the result, Senator Daniel Filmus, a close ally of the president, declared: “We must denounce this trickery that pretends to represent the popular participation of an implanted population. This publicity stunt has no validity for international law.”
The Argentine Senate will vote this week on a motion to reject the result of the referendum and to reaffirm its claim to the islands. “The United Kingdom lacks any right at all to pretend to alter the juridical status of these territories even with the disguise of a hypothetical referendum,” the country’s foreign minister Hector Timerman said.
In the meantime, the race continues to find one of the three.