PHILIPSBURG–Government may not pursue changes to the Constitution to curb ship-jumping by tying seats to political parties rather than to individual candidates. This is the “impression” coalition partner Democratic Party (DP) leader Member of Parliament (MP) Sarah Wescot-Williams said she has gotten in recent days. She said on Monday that while the National Alliance (NA)-led Government had not officially said it would not pursue this route to electoral reform any longer, “I did not get the impression … that Government will pursue that particular change.”
Her comments come on the heels of the Dutch Government expressing serious concerns about the removal of the so-called free mandate of MPs to vote and support issues unhindered.
The place of political parties in the electoral process and the tying of seats to individuals must be discussed. The national ordinance on the registration and financing of political parties already “strengthens parties” in the electoral process, but this changes after the election results are in, Wescot-Williams said. “We should really have a discussion about that,” she said.
Changes to the Constitution will be “a lengthy process,” she pointed out.
In the absence of that change, Wescot-Williams is working on “a code of conduct” for political parties to sign on to, related to preventing ship-jumping.
The majority of political parties require an MP to give up his or her seat should he/she decide to leave the party. This is enshrined in their articles of incorporation. Explaining the premise of the code, Wescot-Williams said that if one party required a member to give up the seat on leaving the party, that same party should not accept an MP from another party who does move away with the seat.
Also on the legislative front, the two timeshare-industry-related laws are to be tabled in Parliament for debate when session resumes in August after the summer recess. Wescot-Williams has been championing the laws, which include the establishment of a timeshare authority to regulate the industry.
Commenting on bids submitted for the construction of a new hospital, Wescot-Williams said, “This is real progress. … It is more than putting up a picture. … It is a long process and a large and irrevocable step.” She hopes the review of the bids and other preparatory procedures will “not take too long” so the hospital can take shape. The hospital project is overseen by Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labour Emil Lee (DP).
Wescot-Williams also briefly addressed the talk in the community about her possible nomination for the post of Governor. “I have not put myself up for Governor,” she said, adding that her focus is on the upcoming elections.
Wescot-Williams expressed condolences during her press conference to the Government and people of France after the Bastille Day attack in Nice. She said the attack “hit home” and St. Maarten has to be vigilant by keeping an eye on global issues. “We are part of the global village,” she said.
Source: Daily Herald
Sarah does not see change to Constitution before elections