Opinion: Eyes on the ball

POSTED: 10/15/15 4:10 PM

While the political situation deteriorated further yesterday morning with a rather distasteful display of rule-bending, we would like to keep our eyes on the ball and look towards to Cabinet of Governor Holiday.

It is in general not done to drag our governor into any political quagmire, but here it is: the continued silence about what is finally going to happen has whipped up a turmoil seldom seen before.

We know now for sure that the new majority prefers its own interpretation of the constitution to the balanced assessments that three constitutional experts have offered. Their arguments are not even discussed, because the experts are Dutch and therefore their reasoning cannot be sound. Local politicians, with all of five years of experience with a constitution know better. Or to be more accurate: they read in the constitution what they want to read there and leave everything else on the side.

We understand the frustration of the new majority. As we wrote before, 8 is more than 7 and in the old days those numbers were the only thing that counted. Now we have to deal with a real constitution that contains a balanced set of rules. One cannot pick one rule, because it fits one’s purpose, and leave another rule out because it is inconvenient. That’s what is happening right now. At least, the new majority has not come up with a reasonable counter argument against the view of three seasoned constitutional experts that, when parliament gives a vote of no-confidence, the government is allowed to strike back with a national decree to dissolve the parliament.

There is no debate, there are only politicians who are digging their heels deep into the proverbial sand. One could argue that the members of the Gumbs Cabinet are doing the same, but their position is different: it has the backing of these constitutional experts. One can hardly argue that these experts have a stake in the outcome of a political crisis that plays so far from their bed in the Netherlands.

A political debate should be about arguments for and against. And in the end one argument has to get the better of the other one. So far, that is not happening, and that is a pity.

Now let’s have another look at the rule book for the governor. As we have established before, there are only two things to do with a national decree the cabinet puts on his desk: sign it, or send it for nullification to the Kingdom government.

Article 21 of the rules or order for the governor deals with the situation whereby the governor considers a national decree at odds with the Kingdom Charter, an international regulation, a kingdom law or a general measure of Kingdom administration, or with the interest that are the responsibility of the Kingdom.

In such cases, the governor immediately informs the king as the head of the Kingdom government. The keyword here is “immediate.” Since the cabinet submitted the decree almost two weeks ago, one has to assume that, if the governor objects to the decree, he has submitted it to the Kingdom Government. Unfortunately, we do not know right know whether this has happened or not.

It would have made the current situation a lot clearer if the governor’s cabinet had informed the public about its course of action.

So far, no official publication has seen the light of day, announcing that the national decree has been nullified.

That adds to the mystification of this situation. If the governor has not submitted the decree for nullification, he violates article 25 of his own rules of order, which is something we can hardly imagine. That would have consequences that are regulated in the criminal code.

For lack of information it is of course too early to jump to conclusions. At the time of this writing, there was no decision by the governor available. This strengthens the believe in the new majority, that the governor will stick to the one statement he has made in a press release, namely, that there is no reason not to form a new government based on the new majority.

It is, all in all, an unhealthy situation that is not doing the country any good. It seems therefore rather urgent for the governor’s cabinet to provide the clarity everybody is craving – politicians and citizens alike.

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