A new period of uncertainty

By Hilbert Haar

Here we go again folks. As Professor Arjen van Rijn wrote in a column this week: if the Parliament strikes, the Government has the right to strike back.

And so, the Parliament sent the Marlin-government home with a motion of no confidence, and the Government hit back with a decree to dissolve the Parliament per January 31 of next year.

That date puts the election date at an interesting time; between December 21 and December 31 – the peak of the festive season. Ho ho ho! How is that going to work out?

The national decree has put the date for submitting candidates at November 13; this means no elections before December 31.

The Governor is examining the possibility of an interim-cabinet. That indicates that, as of Friday, the Governor was not entertaining the idea of handing the keys of the castle to the new majority in Parliament.

No siree: the new majority will get a little grip on power if that interim-cabinet becomes a reality but then it will get its hands full with the preparations for the elections.

Oh, did I mention that St. Maarten was hit by a hurricane on September 6 and that there are still citizens without water and without a roof?

Where are our priorities? One could argue that the opposition should have held back, knowing darn well in advance that the government would submit a decree to dissolve parliament. Maybe it’s not handy at this point in time, but what the government did falls within the confines of the law. Does it make sense? We don’t think so.

If you get a shave you have to sit quietly, the saying goes. But the Marlin-government is throwing the book at its political opponents in an attempt to achieve what? A painful defeat at the polls?

Given all the criticism the Government has had to endure in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, it would have made more sense to accept defeat and to come back to fight another day – during the elections in 2020, to be exact.

If elections are really going to be held in December – we admit, that’s hard to imagine – and if the National Alliance gets punished by the voters, its first chance for a comeback will be pushed back to the next elections in 2022.

In the meantime, St. Maarten is building a ridiculous record in terms of fallen governments. Since this little paradise of ours became an autonomous country on 10-10-10, the government has fallen (we had to look it up, because we lost count) four times, while there was one change of government after regular elections in 2014.

All in all – during the 85 months that pave past since 10-10-10 – the country has had six governments; that’s on average one every fourteen months.

The first coalition of UP, DP and independent Patrick Illidge (a ship jumper from the national alliance, held from 10-10-10 until Carnival 2012, the night from April 28 to 29 to be exact.

Romain Laville, Patrick Illidge and Frans Richardson – all independent MPs – formed the next government with the National Alliance and the Democratic Party.

That combination held until May 2013, when the Democratic Party and (again) MP Romain Laville pulled the plug on the coalition. The DP then formed a new government with the UP and with Laville.

After the regularly scheduled elections of August 29, 2014, a government of the National Alliance, Democratic Party and United St. Maarten party was in the air, but that plan fell apart when DP-MP Cornelius de Weever defected and declared himself independent. De Weever then formed a government with the UP – reportedly because he wanted to prevent that DP-candidate Emil Lee would get a seat in parliament if he continued as minister of public health.

This combination managed to stay in the saddle – with Marcel Gumbs as prime minister – until September 30, 2015 when a motion of no-confidence sent the government home. Gumbs dissolved the parliament, the governor installed an interim-cabinet led by William Marlin that prepared elections that would eventually take place on September 26, 2016.

After that election an unlikely match almost became a reality – a combination of NA and UP. Somehow, that deal fell apart and the National Alliance continued to govern together with the DP and the USp.

The tenure of that cabinet came to an end last Thursday when the new majority – UP, DP and MP Chanel Brownbill – submitted a motion of no confidence.

Right now, we are heading to a new period of uncertainty, exactly what the country does not need while it is struggling to rebound from Hurricane Irma.

Source: StMaartenNews http://stmaartennews.com/opinions/new-period-uncertainty/