PHILIPSBURG–“It’s the people’s democratic right to vote in February 2016 and that right should not be taken away from them under the disguise that political/electoral reform has to come first,” said the opposition United People’s (UP) party board on Monday.
The party’s press statement came four days after newly-appointed Prime Minister William Marlin (National Alliance (NA)) stated his Cabinet would address and answer immediately “the million-dollar question” on whether elections would be called on February 9, 2016.
Marlin said in the Cabinet’s Constituting Meeting on November 19 that the Cabinet would address the issue of elections without delay and would let the populace know of its decision. Also part of the Constituting Meeting was Governor Eugene Holiday.
“The voters and people of St. Maarten can see that any delay in going to the polls reeks of political opportunism and self-interests for the Coalition of Eight,” said the UP board. “Give the voters the choice to vote for the party and candidates who they feel can really bring about political/electoral reform. The new Parliament in March 2016 will then have the mandate for political/electoral reform.”
The National Decree to dissolve Parliament and call snap elections was signed by Governor Holiday on October 28 and published in the National Gazette. However, the Decree does not take effect fully until December 15.
In the meantime, preparations for the snap elections are underway. The Voters Registry closed on Monday, November 23. First-time registrants who did not make the deadline to get on the list or have their addresses changed now have to head to the Court of First Instance to claim their right.
The Voters Registry closed ahead of the published date for Nomination Day – December 22. All political parties duly registered with the Electoral Council to participate in the February elections will have to submit their slate of candidates on that day. A maximum of 23 candidates can be placed on a slate.
The political parties that do not have a seat in the current Second Parliament of St. Maarten will be required to have their slates of candidates endorsed by the signatures of one per cent of the voting population from the 2014 Parliamentary Elections.
The February 9, 2016, Parliamentary Elections are termed snap elections because the current Parliamentary term was not scheduled to end until 2018.
Snap elections came into play after the current majority in Parliament – the Coalition of Eight – passed a motion of no confidence against the Marcel Gumbs Cabinet supported by the UP-led coalition on September 30. The Cabinet retaliated by using its Constitutional right to dissolve Parliament and call snap elections.
The Marcel Gumbs Cabinet demitted office on November 19 making way for the new Marlin Cabinet.
Source: The Daily Herald UP: People’s democratic right to vote should not be taken away