PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten - Prime Minister and Minister for GA was visibly surprised with Parliament's letter reminding and asking the PM to respond to Parliament's motion of April 2013 regarding electoral reform. Ironically this motion has received the most attention by far from government.
The PM reminds the Parliament of St. Maarten of her initiative and discussion paper in which she outlined to the Parliament of St. Maarten how the matters of the electoral reform motion could be addressed. The Prime Minister has even appeared in Parliament to expound on the proposals that she submitted.
More striking however is the fact that in the absence of current guidelines governing the election campaign period, some political factions are suddenly not in favor of arriving at a consensus regarding conduct and guidelines for the political campaign.
Mind you, the motion of April 2013 was UNANIMOUSLY adopted by all factions and parties (DP, UPP, and NA) in Parliament.
It appears now that the UP faction in Parliament in particular is reneging on this agreement as expressed in the Parliamentary motion of April 2013. That motion for some factions in Parliament seems to have been solely for political consumption and not for any real change in how we conduct ourselves in politics. "Now, I receive this letter from the Vice Chair of Parliament on behalf of the same Parliament??"
"Yet, I am sure if any organization, (church, NGO, social club etc.) was to call on political parties to observe some type of electoral protocol, many politicians would nod in agreement, but have absolutely no intention to cooperate, let alone abide.
For good order sake, the DP faction showed its willingness and contributed to the draft agreement that the Minister of Justice was and is seeking between parties, to at least have a semblance of order and proper conduct during the campaign period.
It was felt that time does not permit formal regulation of matters such as order at polling stations etc. and hence the proposal by the Minister of Justice that political parties could arrive at a consensus (gentleman's agreement) regarding guidelines for the 2014 electoral campaign.
PM: "My feeling, however, is that this matter could be regulated in the Police Ordinance, as I proposed to Parliament several months ago".
Already parties are making (mis)use of the absence of guidelines for the political campaign.
When does it start? And end?
Have there been exemptions given to the regulations governing billboards, political meetings etc? These matters are all part of the Police Ordinance.
For now therefore, the DP is focusing on the proposal that was also part of the Paper presented to Parliament, namely the agreement between parties and their candidates, the so-called covenant. We have formulated this agreement in a pledge for our DP candidates.
Our search for candidates who are in it for country and service to country, whose records are clean, who are committed to "Raising the Bar" is bearing fruit. Yes, there are these persons out there. Many, I dare say.
Some, still hesitant to enter the political arena, because of intimidation and outright pressure, but also quite aware, that they can help turn things around. "If not you, then who and if not now, then when, is my mantra." When you fill in "then who", can conjure up some scary prospects of who are asking to represent us.
We can not observe what is going on and lament in our own small circles, but on the other hand, accept and join the public hype. When standing for what you believe in, you sometimes stand alone. (Press Statement by the Democratic Party)