BREAKING NEWS: New Coalition Agreement Signed and In Process | RALPH CANTAVE

By Ralph Cantave

PHILIPSBURG – The 6 weeks Parliamentary recess began with a proposal to strengthen the governing coalition by including Members of Parliament, Akeem Arrindell and Chanel Brownbill.
This was reflected in the signing of the coalition agreement which took place on June 30, 2022, a day before recess went into effect. Yet, late Emancipation Day, a joint press release by leader of the National Alliance, Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs and leader of the United People’s Party MP Rolando Brison, stated that “it was decided to explore discussions with other MPs to see whether there is a feasible option to strengthen the coalition in the interest of stability and continuity.” 
These actions followed the coalition’s dwindling seats as a result of another National Alliance MP’s resignation. MP Ludmila Duncan became the most recent Independent MP during the meeting where a vote of no confidence was tabled against VROMI Minister, Egbert Doran due to a damning report on the “tendering and awarding of garbage collection contracts for the period of 2021 – 2026.”
Content of New Coalition Agreement
The addendum agreement signed on June 30 referenced the January 11, 2020 agreement which led to the formation of the NA-UPP coalition. This coalition was first explored on 27 September 2016, when the two largest parties obtained the most votes for that election period. However, it fell flat during the formation process. Nevertheless, the recent coalition agreement contains three points which state that Arrindell and Brownbill “will be added as signatories to the coalition agreement” and “the Minister of TEATT will be jointly nominated by the United People party and the MP’s Arrindell and Brownbill.” It also mentions “the coalition will look at the governing program and national development vision to agree on policy, legislative and executive priority areas to be addressed in the remaining term.”
Noticeable in the agreement is the missing signature from MP Ludmila de Weever who was the former TEATT Minister.  De Weever replaced Omar Ottley when he left Parliament to become the Minister of VSA. Also, sources confirmed that President of Parliament and UPP MP Grisha Heyliger-Marten did not sign. Noteworthy is the former coalition agreement was not updated with the signatures of de Weever nor the MPs who replaced the NA Ministers. These are MP Ludmila Duncan, Angelique Romou, George Pantophlet and Hyacinth Richardson. Therefore this addendum agreement establishes the new formation. 
Risk and Politics
The resignation of MP Duncan brought the coalition to a one seat majority which makes it more possible for the government to fall if there’s another shakeup. The NA-UPP coalition sought to address this possibility considering the fact that they were the longest sitting government since the constitutional status change on 10-10-10. Therefore the eight seat coalition would gain two extra seats for the security of a 10 seat majority. But, de Weever and Heyliger-Marten’s unwillingness to join brings back the coalition to eight seats in the 15 seat Parliament. Also, it remains unknown how long MP Marlin will remain on sick leave therefore the Parliament of St. Maarten is deadlocked at 7-7.
Arrindell became an Independent MP after a contentious relationship with the United St. Maarten Party (USP). The party publicly expressed dissatisfaction in his frequent absence and minimal contribution to Parliament meetings which Arrindell did not take a liking to. Brownbill was sworn in to fill the vacant seat of Claudius Buncamper due to his suspension by the court. While Brownbill represents USP as a faction in Parliament, the party has since expelled him as a member on March 4, 2022. 
An urgent meeting was held during the evening of July 1, and according to the joint release from Jacobs and Brison, “Follow up meetings will be held and the public will be kept abreast.” Prior to the signing UPP elected and appointed officials gathered for a meeting in Parliament when Brison introduced the draft agreement. Throughout that day other MPs signed until the coalition meeting was held the next day.
According to reliable sources, the news of Roger Laurence’s resignation was fabricated to pressure the Minister while he was on sick leave. Laurence only requested more time off due to doctor’s orders. His absence followed the heated debate on the firing of Michel Hyman from the airport and the Prime Minister’s decision to recuse herself from the situation. If a new Minister of TEATT is appointed according to the new coalition agreement, it leads to question what is the “interference” mentioned by the former Minister that lead to such a turnover at TEATT. Also, did Brownbill and Arrindell peruse the governing program prior to adding their signature? 
Brownbill was convicted of tax evasion in 2021 and Arrindell has the lowest attendance record for Parliament meetings.
Note: the quality of the photo of the coalition agreement was low quality and edited at best to enhance the quality and keep the sources anonymous.
By Ralph Cantave