The upcoming elections to be held on St. Maarten on September 26th, 2016, will have a total of 9 parties vying for votes from the electorate. Of these nine political parties three are completely new parties. These newly established parties are HOPE, SDM and SMCP. The OSPP has been on the political scene since the last elections in August 2014, however, it did not manage to obtain any seats in that election. Although technically a new party for Country St. Maarten and relaunched as a foundation, the PPA existed previously as an association during the time St. Maarten was an Island Territory of the now defunct Netherlands Antilles. The last election the PPA participated in was during the January 2009 Federal elections for the Parliament of the Netherlands Antilles after losing its only seat in the Island Council of St. Maarten during the island territory elections of 2007. The list of political parties participating in the 2016 elections is completed with the established parties that have seats in the present Parliament, namely NA, DP, UPP and USP.
The new parties presented many new candidates who will be running on their lists. The established parties have also presented many new candidates on their list. One candidate who surprised many with his last minute decision to run on the NA list is the present Minister of Finance, Richard Gibson Sr., who is now the number 8th candidate on the NA list. Richard Gibson is the only Minister of Finance to ever present a balanced budget for Country St. Maarten. This was done in 2016. Gibson hopes to continue the work he started in a next cabinet after presenting a balanced 2017 budget to Parliament in September during the opening the new Parliamentary Year. Other new faces on the NA list are Jimmy Challenger, Rene Violenus, Elvis Flanders and Robert Budike.
The most impressive list of candidates is that of USP with well-known and controversial politicians such as Silvio Matser, Maurice Lake, Romain Laville and Maria Buncamper-Molanus. Silvio Matser and Maurice Lake are presently members of Parliament. These two MPs had declared themselves Independent in 2015. This move led to a constitutional crisis which saw the Governor been placed in the awkward position of having to call for new elections in 2016 while allowing a new government to be formed, led by ministers appointed by the NA, USP and DP and headed by William Marlin as Prime Minister.
This election promises to be a crucial election for the future of St. Maarten as a country experiencing political instability since April 2012, plagued by yearly ship-jumping ever since and constantly having to deal with integrity issues. Not to mention the CFT breathing down the neck of the Minister of Finance to maintain a balanced budget and the Ministry of Justice battling issues on all fronts with a limited budget, an understaffed force, a problematic prison and all while in and out of courts dealing with cases regarding personnel and division heads. St. Maarten needs political stability now more than ever. If the number of political parties competing in the upcoming elections is any indication, it may take St. Maarten a while before any kind of political stability is achieved after the outcome of the September 2016 elections. It is up to the electorate to determine whether St. Maarten gets another coalition government or a one-party majority-led government.
Facts, Figures & Legends
NA - National Alliance
DP - Democratic Party
UPP - United People's Party
USP - United St. Maarten Party
OSPP - One St. Maarten People Party
PPA - Peoples Progressive Alliance (*** Relaunched with CPA joining ***) 1
HOPE - Helping Our People Excel (*** NEW ***) 2
SMCP - St. Maarten Christian Party (*** NEW ***)
SDM - St. Maarten Development Movement (*** NEW ***)
Seat Assignments After 2014 Elections:
USP 2 seats
NA 4 seats
UPP 7 seats
DP 2 seats
USP made a good showing in the last elections in 2014 as a new party under party leader, Frans Richardson, and managed to obtain 2 seats, which went to Frans Richardson and Leona Marlin-Romeo as the two highest vote getters. However, Leona Marlin-Romeo declared herself Independent shortly after the elections after a joint press conference with Frans Richardson wherein she declared not to have any plans to ever jump ship.
DP won 2 seats in Parliament in the last elections in 2014, but now only has one Member of Parliament, namely Sarah Wescot Williams, who is also the present President of Parliament. The other DP Member of Parliament was Cornelius De Weever who went Independent during the NA-DP-USP formation talks and aligned himself with the UP party, who had won 7 seats, giving them an 8 seats majority in the Parliament of St. Maarten, thereby allowing them to form a new government with the support of Member of Parliament, Leona Marlin-Romeo.
NA won 4 seats and had to content itself quietly with the role of opposition party in Parliament with lone USP MP, Frans Richardson, who was content to play the role of champion of the opposition. The NA was bowled out of the NA-DP-UP formation talks by the surprising move of Cornelius De Weever who declared his support for an UP-led government and disappeared off the island afterwards. All changed when MP Maurice Lake resigned from the UP party in 2015. He was quickly followed by MP Silvio Matser, who felt unsupported, disillusioned and isolated by the UP party leadership and membership.
Stay tuned for more election analysis from StMaartenNews.net...
1. Concordia Political Alliance (CPA), led by Jeffrey Richardson, which last participated in the 2010 elections, has now joined the PPA with Jeffrey Richardson as the number 3 candidate on the list.
2. Social Reform Party (SRP), led by former NA candidate Jacinto Mock, who last participated for the first time as a one-man party in the 2014 elections, has now joined the HOPE party as the third of three candidates together with Mercedes Wyatt and Loekie Morales.