Only three women to take oath as MPs

HARBOUR VIEW–Despite accounting for the majority of registered voters in the September 26 parliamentary election, women will only see themselves reflected in three of the incoming Members of Parliament (MPs) who take the oath of office today, Monday, before Governor Eugene Holiday. And, the faces are not different from those elected two years ago.

Those MPs are Sarah Wescot-Williams (Democratic Party (DP) leader), Silveria Jacobs (National Alliance (NA) deputy leader) and Tamara Leonard (United People’s (UP) party). Wescot-Williams, who is the outgoing chairwoman of Parliament, and Leonard are current MPs, who were re-elected.

Jacobs, like the other two women, was elected in 2014 and served as an MP until NA formed a coalition Government with DP and United St. Maarten Party and two independents in September 2015. She took up the post of Education Minister in the current Government.

Although Jacobs will take the oath of office today, she will not serve as an MP in the long-term. She will continue on in her post as a Minister. Her seat will be taken up by current MP Hyacinth Richardson. He was not one of his party’s four elected MPs in 2014 nor any of the five in this past snap election. He gained his seat each time as next highest non-elected vote-getter on his party’s slate.

While Jacobs’ post will be taken up by a man, the seat of MP Theo Heyliger (UP), when he takes up the post as Tourism and Economic Affairs Minister, will go to current MP Leona Marlin-Romeo, who is the highest non-elected vote-getter on the UP slate.

Marlin-Romeo along with Wescot-Williams and Leonard will form one-fifth of the Parliament. The legislature comprises 15 seats taken up by four parties.

Women born around the globe, but holding Dutch nationality, accounted for the majority of eligible voters for the September 26 Parliamentary elections. The “fairer sex” number 11,488, more than half of the total voter count of 22,302. The number of women voters is up from 11,090, the tally from two years ago. The nine parties that contested the election reflect only 35 women of the 125 candidates. This is a slight increase of seven women since the 2014 polls.

Not much will change when the “Halloween” Parliament takes its seat. This third Parliament since St. Maarten became a country within the Dutch Kingdom on October 10, 2010, will not be much different from the current one. The same four parties will be represented by the 15 MPs, though a few faces will change.

Source: The Daily Herald