PM: Changes to electoral system necessary

POSTED: 11/29/12 3:27 PM

St. Maarten -Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams wants a review of the island’s constitution that would result in changes to the electoral laws and stability in government. She made these remarks yesterday

“For St. Maarten we are a young country and I think it is necessary.  I will give that all my attention to look at ways and means within our legislation, constitution and otherwise to see where we can create a basis that will give the government, at any particular time, the stability. Whether it be in coalition or not, so that they present a governing program to the people that will be judged, debated or critiqued by the people.”

She added the governing program should reflect the unity that the government and the parties supporting it has, as well a clear vision and “at the end of the term they will be judged on the execution of that program that was presented.”

However, Wescot-Williams said that she is not necessarily in agreement with the way Curacao has proposed its constitutional change.

“I don’t necessarily think that the way to go would be the way it was proposed in Curacao since the Council of Advice critiqued the move as unconstitutional. In that particular case it was suggested that members who would be elected would sign a declaration basically saying that the seat is of the political party.”

Wescot-Williams was instrumental in the drafting of St. Maarten’s constitution from the initial stages. She says that there was not sufficient time for electoral system to be properly discussed.

“Going back to when we were discussing our constitution and putting our constitution in place…the issue of our electoral system came up but we did not have enough time to discuss whether a change to our electoral system was desirable. We did not have the opportunity to discuss that in depth.”

“Jurisprudence in the Kingdom is not in favour of changes that would tie the seats of parliament to a political party. That might very well be the case, that that jurisprudence is there. However one should not lose sight is the fact that if we take the country the Netherlands, this is a country that has a constitution and is based on democratic principles for centuries,” she added.

The prime minister said that she was confident that she would receive support for this endeavor.

Now that we have the time we need to look at our electoral laws, constitution because at this stage in St. Maarten’s young life as a country what we need is stability and transparency towards the people that we represent. It is not a matter of urgency but I know it will generate a lot of debate and I want that,” she indicated.


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