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Update: Falkland Islands Voters Opt To Stay With Britain

Residents gather in Stanley, Falkland Islands on Monday, during a referendum intended to show the world that they want to stay British amid increasingly tense relations with Argentina.
Tony Chater
AFP/Getty Images
Residents gather in Stanley, Falkland Islands on Monday, during a referendum intended to show the world that they want to stay British amid increasingly tense relations with Argentina.

Update at 8:35 a.m. ET, March 12. Nearly Unanimous:

"An overwhelming 99.8 percent of Falkland Islands voters have backed keeping their government just the way it is: a British Overseas Territory," The Associated Press writes. "Of the 1,517 valid votes cast, only 3 islanders voted "no" to the question: "Do you wish the Falkland Islands to retain their current political status as an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom?" One vote was somehow lost, officials said Monday."

Our original post — "Falkland Islanders Go To Polls, Will Decide Whether They Want To Join Argentina":

Citizens of the Falkland Islands headed to the polls today. In question is a referendum on whether they would like to continue being part of the United Kingdom or become a part of Argentina.

Last time a referendum of this kind was held in 1986, 96 percent of islanders voted to remain British.

According to USA Today, nothing much is expected to change this time around, despite the fact that, lately, relations have soured between the two countries.

USA Today explains:

"Buenos Aires has long claimed sovereignty over the islands, which it calls Las Malvinas. Under President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, an all-out diplomatic onslaught is being waged to pressure the United Kingdom into relinquishing the islands.

"Kirchner's administration has taken its case to the United Nation's decolonization committee and repeatedly implored Britain to respect resolutions dating to 1965 that call on the two countries to negotiate. Britain refuses, insisting the islanders have the right to self-determination."

As we reported back in 2012, Argentina and the U.K. have been trading barbs since 1982, when Argentina invaded the islands and that ended in a British victory that killed 650 Argentinian troops and 250 British personnel.

Argentina has claimed the islands since 1833, when it says it inherited them after its independence from Spain.

The U.K.'s Independent has more on the voting:

"The festive atmosphere which accompanied the first day of voting yesterday continued in the Falklands' diminutive capital with voters turning up in a Land Rovers swamped in Union flag bunting and one woman having gone to the trouble of donning a red, white and blue wig.

"Alison Smith, 45, said: 'I think we're all very keen to make our point. If it means hanging around for a bit, then so be it. We've waited a long time for this opportunity so I think we'll make the most of it.'"

The Guardian ran two editorials today with the same message: A simple referendum will not end the dispute.

"Only British citizens participate in elections on the Malvinas Islands, and only British citizens will participate in this referendum," Alicia Castro writes. "It is a referendum organised by British people, for British people, with the purpose of asserting that the territory has to be British. In case any locals still hadn't made up their minds by the weekend, local news outlets ran last-minute stories warning that any share of the no vote will 'strengthen the Argentinian position.'"

Reuters reports there are 2,840 British citizens and a "sizable community of immigrants from Chile and Saint Helena."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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