The outcome of the March 11 referendum in the Falkland Islands was never in doubt: as it turns out, 99.8 per cent of islanders voted to remain British, with just three people voting against. Nor does the vote have any legal force. Still, it sends an important message at a time when Argentina has been renewing its claim to the islands, almost 31 years after the Falklands War: the islanders want to remain British and do not want to be part of Argentina.
The impact on the islands’ status is likely to be negligible, given that Argentina had already refused to recognize the referendum and the British government had no intention of giving them up anyway. But the vote does affirm the crucial principle of self-determination. For Argentina to take control of the islands in the foreseeable future would make a mockery of that principle; this would not serve the islanders’ wishes. Whatever the emotional significance that the islands have assumed in Argentina — their recovery is enshrined in its constitution, despite Argentina having owned the islands only for a few years in the early 19th century — any sensible Argentine politician should surely accept that the nation has more pressing problems to confront. The Falklands wish to remain British: we should leave the matter there.
London Evening Standard