PFP: Snap elections infringe on people’s democratic rights | THE DAILY HERALD

The logo of the new political party, the Party for Progress (PFP).


PHILIPSBURG–The Party for Progress (PFP), a new political party which is hosting its launch event on Friday, has voiced criticism of the St. Maarten Electoral Council’s decision regarding political parties that are allowed to contest the coming Parliamentary election.

  “St. Maarten learned, in the span of several hours on Monday, September 23, that it would once again be sent to the polls on November 25 to elect a new Parliament,” said PFP on Wednesday, adding that it had announced its launch event on social media on Saturday, September 21.

  “When we posted the date of our launch event, we were not anticipating an election,” said PFP President Melissa Gumbs. “The purpose of launching the association was very clear for us, which is one of driving community engagement for actionable change. It was also our goal to participate in the next elections for the Parliament of St. Maarten, which we foresaw happening in 2022.”

  Gumbs said PFP’s board has already submitted their documents to the Electoral Council for registration. However, she says the party is aware that the October 2 postulation date works against them.

  According to her, this situation has revealed a “long-standing” discrepancy between the Constitution and the Election Ordinance (Kiesverordening).

  “His Excellency the Governor and the Council of Ministers have signed off on a National Decree that, while complying with the Constitution, at the same time tramples many of the democratic principles and rights of the population. This is odd, because this discrepancy, which has been present since the inception of Country St. Maarten, has never been acknowledged quite like this before.

  “Affected by this reasoning are the new political parties that now fall outside of the six-week registration period to qualify for postulation. The postulation date is not mentioned in the Constitution, but in the Election Ordinance and the National Ordinance Registration and Finances of Political Parties,” Gumbs said.

  According to article 16 of the National Ordinance Registration and Finances of Political Parties, political parties must submit their application for registration at least six weeks prior to postulation day or they will be ineligible to contest the next elections.

  “If postulation day remains set for Wednesday, October 2, PFP’s concern then lies with the legality of this election.

  “It is also notable to mention that, according to article 22, section 4 of the Election Ordinance, the postulation date shall be published by or on behalf of the chairman of the Central Voting Bureau three weeks prior to the postulation date itself. As it stands, in principle, the current postulation date set for October 2 is … in violation of this article,” reiterated Gumbs.

  She also said that one of the primary goals of dissolving Parliament and calling new elections is to allow for the introduction of new parties and new candidates.

  “Considering the short time from the signing of the decree, the announcement of the postulation date, and the current state of some political parties, PFP is concerned that adhering to the current postulation date and election date is not in the best interest of the people of St. Maarten,” Gumbs said.

  PFP said in a press release that the party has learned of two other new political parties that were attempting to register for postulation day which are now unable to do so.

  “The deeper issue, PFP believes, is the blatant infringement on the constitutional and democratic rights of the people to choose their representatives.

  “According to articles 48 and 49 of the Constitution of St. Maarten, every resident of our country has a voting right that can be split in two separate rights: A right to vote for who you wish to represent you in the Parliament of St. Maarten, and a right to postulate yourself as a possible candidate for the Parliament of St. Maarten.

  “By maintaining the postulation date for October 2, not only the PFP, but every other [new – Ed.] party and its members are withheld from their constitutional rights to postulate themselves in an election,” said Gumbs.

  PFP sent a letter to Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin on Wednesday requesting that she reconsider the election and postulation dates “to guarantee that the constitutional rights of all citizens of St. Maarten are upheld.” PFP said this letter had been sent to Romeo-Marlin because article 21 of the Constitution states that the election and postulation dates are set by Prime Minister.  

  PFP has confirmed that its launch event will take place at University of St. Martin (USM) on Friday, September 27, from 6:00 to 9:00pm. The party invites the public to attend.

Source: The Daily Herald