“Electoral reform is a race against time”POSTED: 01/19/16 7:47 PM
St. Maarten – Bringing about electoral reform that is applicable to the September 26 elections is “a race against time,” DP-MP Sarah Wescot-Williams said at a party press conference yesterday afternoon.
“The proposals I made to parliament will be part of the research,” the DP-leader said. “For the new proposals it is important that we decide how far we can go and have changes passed before the elections. You do not need a crystal ball to realize that we are fighting against time.”
“I hope for the best,” she continued, but the way I look at it, it is a race against time.”
No matter what happens, Wescot-Williams said, “Nobody is thinking about another postponement of the elections. We will pull out all the stops to have reform in place that is applicable to the September 26 elections.”
The discussion paper about electoral reform Wescot-Williams submitted to parliament in February 2014 suggested increased requirements for political parties, a higher threshold of voter support and a covenant between candidates and political parties.
The DP-leader has never specified the suggested increased requirements for political parties. Currently, parties must have a notarized deed containing its articles of incorporation and “the obligations of the members to the party, or the way in which such obligations can be imposed.”
One of the suggestions made at the time was to include a statement wherein potential candidates “express commitment to the party program and party philosophy and that he is aware, accepts and respects, that decisions of the party will be taken by the statutory bodies, based on the majority.”
Wescot-Williams furthermore suggested increasing the percentage of voter support a list needs to qualify for participating in the elections. Currently, new parties need 1 percent of the number of votes cast in the last elections. Based on the 2014 elections, this number is currently 144.
With how much the DP wants to increase the percentage is unclear. “By increasing this percentage, the political parties need to be more critical of the candidates they put on their list,” was all Wescot-Williams said about it in 2014. She wants the voter-support percentage – whatever it may be – applicable to all parties, and not only to new political parties.
Wescot-Williams discussion paper already hinted at a change to the rules of order for parliament and to make distinction between political parties and independent Members of Parliament. The changes Wescot-Williams had in mind at the time targeted administrative and financial support – an indication that MPs who go independent after the elections could lose the financial support factions are entitled to.