Ronald Plasterk: “Buying votes undermines St. Maarten’s democratic character”

POSTED: 09/23/14 10:51 PM

THE HAGUE – Socialist Party parliamentarian Ronald van Raak received predictable answers from Minister Ronald Plasterk to his questions about the election fraud trial in St. Maarten. “It is not up to the minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations to comment on court rulings,” the minister wrote, though he also noted that buying and selling votes undermines St. Maarten’s democratic character.

Van Raak posed questions to Plasterk on August 27, two days before the parliamentary elections in St. Maarten and two days after the Court in First Instance declared the prosecution inadmissible in the prosecution of a representative of the United People’s party and three police officers for buying and selling votes in the 2010 elections.

“Do you agree with the judge in St. Maarten that there is a case of class justice because in an investigation into buying votes in the 2010 elections no investigation was done into the top of the United People’s party?” Van Raak asked – but Plasterk did not bite.

Van Raak also asked whether it is true that Theo Heyliger donated $3 million to his party for the 2010 elections, that people lined up in front of the UP-building to collect money and that the party had its own registration system to check whether people would actually cast their vote. Plasterk’s answer: “I am not in a position to assess the truth of these allegations.”

Plasterk had a little bit more to say about Van Raak’s final question: is the minister concerned that Mr. Heyliger as the party-leader of the UP will be elected to parliament again while no solid investigation has been done into election fraud?

“The court has established that a number of people are guilty of trading in votes,” Plasterk answered. “Based on the Kingdom Charter every country takes care of the realization of fundamental human rights and freedoms, the legal security and good governance. St. Maarten is a constitutional state and from that perspective trading in votes is a source of concern and undermining for the country’s democratic character.”

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