99.8% of Falkland Islands residents vote to retain British rule

Local politicians hope the resounding “yes” vote will help them lobby support abroad, for example in the United States, which has a neutral position on the sovereignty issue.

“We’re never going to change Argentina’s claim and point of view, but I believe there are an awful lot of countries out there that are sitting on the fence. … This is going to show them quite clearly what the people think,” Edwards added.

The mood was festive as islanders lined up in the cold to vote in the low-key island capital of Stanley during voting, some wearing novelty outfits made from the red, white and blue Union Jack flag.

“We are British, and that’s the way we want to stay,” said Barry Nielsen, who wore a Union Jack hat to cast his ballot at the town hall polling station in Stanley, where most of the roughly 2,500 islanders live.