Kingdom Govt. objects to ship-jumping law proposal

THE HAGUE–The Kingdom Government has serious objections to the proposed change to the St. Maarten Constitution to tackle the so-called ship-jumping of Members of the St. Maarten Parliament, and has urged the St. Maarten Government to address these concerns.

Dutch Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Ronald Plasterk stated the concerns of the Kingdom Council of Ministers in a letter to St. Maarten Prime Minister William Marlin dated June 17, a copy of which has been unofficially provided to The Daily Herald.
The Kingdom Council of Ministers discussed the law proposal to amend the St. Maarten Constitution on June 3. “The Kingdom Government has comprehension for the efforts of the St. Maarten Government to look for ways to improve the continuity of government and appreciates that the government considers the frequent ship-jumping practice undesirable,” stated Plasterk.
However, the proposal presents “large” legal and practical objections, stated the Minister, who wondered whether the proposed solution would not create problems at the same time. “The proposed change prevents a Member of Parliament who has separated from his party to vote for the nomination of candidate ministers.”
According to Plasterk, this creates the possibility that, after a cabinet crisis, there will be no majority support in Parliament for a nomination. “This means that no new cabinet can be appointed while the sitting cabinet, as a result of the cabinet’s crisis, will have a lame duck status and will also be powerless since it no longer has the majority support in the Parliament. Such a situation is not conducive for the continuity of government.”
Secondly, it is unclear who decides whether Members of Parliament (MPs) “belong to the political party through which they were elected into Parliament.” Plasterk questioned whether an MP, who is still a member of the party and consequently votes different than his party, is excluded from voting along on a nomination.
“Does the Member in question first have to be expelled from the party? Or, if a party of two persons in Parliament splits up, which of the two will be part of the political party through which he was elected into Parliament?”
In case a political party secures such a role in the Constitution, it is also necessary to regulate a few things in the Constitution such as the decision-taking within that party, noted the Minister, who expressed concerns that the current law proposal would increase the role of the political parties and the party leaders.
Plasterk warned that the law proposal would have a large impact on the competences within the Constitution, the relation between the government and the Parliament. “The role of the political parties will become greater.”
The law proposal will establish the right of nomination of Ministers by the Parliament, something that is currently not the case. The right to nomination will also be limited to the existing parties in Parliament, which in fact increases the power of the party leader, explained Plasterk.
“A national decree to appoint the Ministers remains a national decree, but the politically responsible Ministers, namely the Prime Minister, will become a stamping machine because he will have to follow the nomination of the Parliament. That can result in having Ministers in his cabinet against his will.”
According to Plasterk, the law proposal will create a differentiation between MPs who can vote and who cannot about the nomination of candidate ministers. “This law proposal doesn’t seem to offer a justification for that.”
All in all, the Kingdom Government considered it advisable to seek other solutions for the problem of ship-jumping. “Considering the severity of the objections, you have to take into account that if these are not addressed, the amendment of the Constitution, also after the advice of the Advisory Council and approval by the Parliament, will be confronted with objections of the Kingdom Government,” Plasterk closed off his letter.

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Source: Daily Herald
Kingdom Govt. objects to ship-jumping law proposal

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