Endorsement Day: Voters flock to census office to endorse party of their choice

POSTED: 07/15/14 2:51 PM

St. Maarten – Party leaders, candidates and supporters gathered at the census office yesterday morning for the final hurdle towards participation in the August 29 elections. Endorsement Day, this occasion ought to be called – the day when citizens lend their signature to the list of the political party of their choice. Each party – none excepted – had to collect at least 138 signatures, equal to 1 percent of the valid voted in the 2010 elections, to validate its list.

Milling around the census office yesterday morning, where tents had been erected to offer some protection against the sun, were three party leaders – William Marlin, Frans Richardson and Jacinto Mock –MPs like Roy Marlin and George Pantophlet and an array of candidates – from Rhoda Arrindell and Cedric Peterson to Rueben Thompson and Maurice Lake. Even Romain Laville made an appearance, dressed in a blue Hugo Boss polo shirt, but he is not in the race for a second term.

National Alliance leader William Marlin said that his campaign material has encountered some delays and that it is now expected to arrive on Friday. “I do not know if someone who is involved in the shipping business has anything to do with this,’ he said only half-joking. “Maybe we’re going to find out that in won’t arrive on Friday but next Monday.”

Marlin said that his party is going into the elections to win. Seven seats? “No, eight seats. People have been very disappointed in what happened in 2010 when the National Alliance won the elections but did not get into government.”

Frans Richardson, dressed in a blue US-party tee shirt also holds an optimistic view on the outcome of the elections. Is he going for two seats? “No, three seats,” Richardson says.

With four parties looking for a serious bite out of the electorate – UP, DP, NA and US – and two outsiders also in the race – SRP and OSPP – chances are that the dynamics of politics as St. Maarten knew them will dramatically change.

UP-leader Theo Heyliger has said on several occasions that he does not want another coalition-government – and that he is therefore shooting for an absolute majority at the ballot – but there are few observers who believe that it is possible to bring home those eight seats for any party. Only Marlin and Heyliger and their supporters believe differently.

For Jacinto Mock’s Social Reform Party it felt like touch and go. Last week Mock said that 413 voters had supported his list but yesterday they had to come out and actually endorse the SRP.

The same holds for Lenny Priest’s One St. Maarten People Party.

If the two outsiders are not making the cut, it leaves four parties in the race for the fifteen seats in parliament.

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