Kingdom government shoots reform proposals down

POSTED: 06/24/16 9:13 PM


St. Maarten News – The kingdom government has serious objections to the proposed anti-ship jumping measures the Marlin cabinet has in mind. If the government does not address these objections, Minister Ronald Plasterk (Kingdom Relations) writes in a letter for Minister Plenipotentiary Henrietta Doran-York, “You will have to reckon with the possibility that the changes to the State regulation will meet with objections from the kingdom government.”

In gentle terms, the kingdom government has shot down the proposal before it has reached the parliament. “It seems advisable to the kingdom government that your government seeks other solutions for these problems. If you appreciate this, civil servants of my department will be pleased to think along about other solutions,” Plasterk states in the letter.

The kingdom government has sympathy for the attempts the government makes to promote the continuity of government. It appreciates that the government considers the regular ship jumping undesirable. That is where the support from the kingdom government stops: “There are serious legal and practical objections against the proposal under consideration,” Plasterk writes.

The kingdom government wonders whether the solution does not also create problems. “When a Member of Parliament has split, he would according to the proposal not be allowed to vote on the nomination of candidate-ministers. This creates the possibility that – after a government crisis – there is no majority in parliament for a nomination,” Plasterk wrote. “This means that it is not possible to appoint a new cabinet, while the incumbent cabinet is outgoing and also paralyzed because it no longer has the support of a majority in parliament. Such a situation is not conducive to the continuity of government.”

The kingdom government has spotted more weak points in the proposed reforms. It is for instance unclear, Plasterk wrote, who decides whether parliamentarians “belong to the political party with which they have been elected to parliament.” This phrasing does not connect with that of the election ordinance of St. Maarten, the minister points out.

“Is a parliamentarian who is still a member of the party, but who votes consistently different than his faction (and votes the same as another faction) excluded from voting about a nomination or not? Should this member first be expelled by the party? And when a faction of two members falls apart, which one of the two then belongs to the political party with which he has been elected to parliament?”

Plasterk says that, if a political party would get such a role in the State Regulation, it is also necessary to regulate the decision making process within the party in the State Regulation and to establish specifics in a national ordinance.

Because of this proposal the competencies in the relationship between the government and the parliament, will change drastically according to the kingdom government. The role of the political party becomes more prominent.

“Currently the right of nominating ministers by the parliament formally does not exist but through this proposal it is being established and subsequently limited to the existing factions; this increases the power of the party leader,” Plasterk wrote.

“National decrees to appoint ministers remain national decrees, but the politically responsible minister – the prime minister according to article 40 sub 2 of the State Regulation – becomes a rubber stamp because he has to follow the nomination by the parliament. This way he could end up with ministers in his cabinet against his will.”

Lastly, the kingdom government notes, the proposal creates a distinction between parliamentarians – those who are and those who are not allowed to vote on the nomination of candidate-ministers. “There does not seem to be any justification in the proposal for this,” Plasterk wrote.

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