Opinion: Utterly sidelined

POSTED: 05/10/12 4:04 PM

The word betrayal has fallen in connection with Romain Laville’s departure from the United People’s party, in combination with the word unexpected. Ousted Vice Prime Minister Theo Heyliger used the terms in an interview yesterday.

This is interesting and also unusual, coming from a politician who dropped the Democratic Party like a hot potato when it needed him most a couple of years ago.

We figure this is the way things go in local politics. Since there is no party with a clear ideology politicians are more or less free to do their party-hopping as they see fit. The swap allegiance, they go independent, and before you know it, they’re back at square one with the party where they started.

But since Laville has now been identified as someone who betrayed Heyliger’s green party – unexpected even, it doesn’t sound like he will ever be welcome back there as long as Heyliger is around. However: never say never in politics.

For the time being Laville will be portrayed by his opponents as a traitor. After all we did for him, is more or less the core of Heyliger’s message.

Well, we think that this judgment is rather harsh. Of course Laville has a short track record in politics, but that does not mean he is not entitled to his own opinions. It does not mean that, because he just started out two years ago as a politician that his opinions are worth less than those of the old hands in the game.

We saw Laville’s departure coming after the party called him to order over the Jules James motion on November 17 of last year. Speaking one way and voting in the opposite direction is not a sustainable strategy. Laville did not vote on November 17, everybody knows that, but he left the parliament a deeply unhappy man.

So why his departure is now perceived as unexpected is a mystery to us. We’d say: what took him so long?

The bitterness on Heyliger’s side is understandable as well though. Due to the fall of the government that was caused by Laville’s departure and the subsequent banding together of the three independent MPs, Claude Wathey’s grandson suddenly finds himself completely and utterly sidelined. No ministry and also no seat in parliament.

Thought this situation could change: departing Minister of Economic affairs Franklin Meyers will assume the presidency of the UP again after he leaves office and he said yesterday that he will see “who has to give up his seat for the vice Prime Minister.”

Even if nobody budges, which is quite possible, it does not mean that Heyliger’s influence is gone. After all, he is still the UP’s party leader and he could steer his parliamentarians in the direction he wants. Unfortunately for Heyliger, these parliamentarians no longer have a decisive influence in parliament. If they want something they’ll have to ask nicely and then it remains to be seen whether the new ruling majority will consider their ideas. It will be a completely new experience for our now former Vice Prime Minister.

The only one with opposition experience in the UP faction is Parliament President Gracita Arrindell who will most likely have to vacate that position in September. The other UP-members are greenhorns – from Jules James down to Ruth Douglas, Sylvia Meyers-Olivacce and Johan Leonard. The only one of these MPs who seems capable of making sensible remarks in the parliament is Jules James – and if the party leadership has any sense left at all it will make him the new faction leader. That’s of course in case Heyliger does not manage to get his seat in parliament; in that case the appointment of the new faction leader is a non-issue.

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