MARIGOT–Even by the end of the first round last week, the outcome of the 2017 Territorial Council was never in doubt.
Last night the polls confirmed Daniel Gibbs will become the next President of the Territorial Council of St. Martin, a mandate his majority party will hold for the next five years, after another tidal wave of support for Team Gibbs flooded through the 19 polling stations on Sunday.
Provisional results from the Préfecture indicated an overwhelming victory for Team Gibbs with 5,695 votes. Alliance for Hope, Justice and Prosperity was second with 2,138 votes and March vers le Progrès (MVP) third with 1,022 votes.
In the second round 9,204 persons voted, a turnout of 45.37 per cent, only slightly better than the first round (42.73 per cent). There were 169 blank votes, 180 invalid votes, leaving actual expressed votes as 8,855. The rate of abstention was 54.63 per cent compared to 57.63 per cent in the first round.
The earliest indications, again provisional, are that Team Gibbs will hold 18 seats in the Council against three for the Louis Mussington/Jules Charville alliance and two for Alain Richardson’s MVP.
The results were read out to the waiting crowd outside Hotel de la Collectivité by outgoing first Vice-President Guillaume Arnell in the absence of Aline Hanson due to illness.
A crowd with a distinctly orange and green tint slowly gathered by the giant screens all evening to monitor the results and quickly swelled when the final deal went down.
Supporters erupted in wild, flag-waving jubilation when Gibbs, his wife Yana and his team finally came on stage, letting off smoke flares, dancing to jump-up music and throwing showers of confetti over the team.
“What we wanted was a one-shot and what we got was a powerful second-shot,” said Gibbs to deafening applause. “This is not only our victory but your victory. It’s a historic victory. “This is the unity that we need and we are ready to govern, ready to open our arms to all those who want to participate in this immense task we have before us. We had a solid programme from the beginning and that’s why we had such a good first round.”
Gibbs thanked his main rivals Louis Mussington, Jules Charville and Alain Richardson for “a quiet and dignified” election.
Thanks were also conveyed to his campaign director Hervé Dorvil, his whole team, former Mayor Albert Fleming, and Gibbs’ wife and family.
The teams of Louis Mussington and Alain Richardson stepped up to the podium to give their thanks to supporters, but the crowd was less than impressed.
Said Louis Mussington afterwards: “I’m very satisfied that we made a difference. It was the right strategy to get more people involved. Unfortunately it was not understood by the other party which chose to maintain its list. That was a terrible decision. Time will tell as to why they did that. But I believe we still made the best choice given what we were up against. I have no regrets whatsoever and working with Jules Charville’s team was the best decision we made. We could, of course, have done better if the arrangement had been done earlier.”
Alain Richardson of MVP said considering he has been out of the political arena for four years without a mandate, working with a new team and putting together a programme to inform the people in a month and a half, his total 1,022 votes were still “very encouraging.”
“The voters have spoken clearly. There is a role for me to serve the country, but I will have to work and build it up in the years to come,” he said. “For me this is an encouragement vote. I have congratulated Daniel Gibbs and his team. It is now time to work. I hope his team can be operational and that the platform his team were elected upon becomes more practical and the people can relate to his programmes.”
Both local and regional media covered the election during the two rounds.