UK

Falklands Referendum: Everything You Need To Know About The Vote

09/03/2013 13:19 GMT | Updated 09/03/2013 21:25 GMT

Confused about the upcoming referendum on the Falklands? Here are the whos, whats, whys and whens of this week's vote:

When is the vote happening?

Falkland Islanders will go to the polls on 10-11 March, with the result expected at around 10-11pm local time on Monday - about 1-2am on Tuesday in the UK.

What is the referendum question?

Voters will be asked: "Do you wish the Falkland Islands to retain their current political status as an Overseas Territory of the United Kingdom?"

Who is entitled to vote?

All British citizens over the age of 18 out of the population of 2,563. In the 2009 Legislative Assembly election, 1,232 people voted, representing 77.7% of an electorate of 1,586.

Why is the vote being held?

The poll comes against a backdrop of heightened Argentine pressure for negotiations with London over the sovereignty of the islands they know as Las Malvinas. The Falklands Government says the referendum will give islanders "the opportunity to clearly state, through an open and observed democratic process, what they wish the political status of the Falkland Islands to be".

What is a British Overseas Territories?

Britain has 14 Overseas Territories, which belong to the Crown but are self-governing in most cases. The UK is responsible for the security of the overseas territories and for their foreign affairs and defence-related matters. They are not colonies.

Why is Argentina challenging the status of the Falklands?

Buenos Aires has long claimed sovereignty of the islands, and the Argentine Constitution states that recovery of the Malvinas is "a permanent and unrelinquished goal of the Argentine people".

Argentina maintains that the islands were seized by Britain in 1833, when the existing civilian population was expelled.

But this is rejected as false by the Falklands Government, who insist that the people expelled were an illegal garrison and that settlers had been living on the archipelago for two generations before Argentina even staked its claim.

Didn't the war in 1982 solve the issue?

No. Following the expulsion of Argentine troops, the row over sovereignty faded into the background, and diplomatic relations between London and Buenos Aires were resumed in 1990. But in 2007, Argentina reasserted its demand for negotiations over sovereignty, and President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner took the issue to the United Nations on the 30th anniversary of the war last year.

What happens is the Islanders vote 'Yes'?

The Falklands Government will confirm to the UK Government that the islands wish to remain a UK Overseas Territory, retaining their current status and preserving the right to self-determination and the option to review their status at any time, including by seeking full independence.

And if they vote 'No'?

The authorities in Port Stanley will undertake preparatory work leading to a further referendum on alternative options. The choices in any future referendum would be based on preferences voiced by the islanders during a consultation period.

Will a 'Yes' vote end the row?

No. Argentina has refused to make any commitment to respect the outcome of the referendum. London will undoubtedly use an emphatic Yes vote to bolster its refusal to enter into any negotiations about sovereignty. The stalemate is likely to continue.