PHILIPSBURG–The sitting coalition government lost its majority in Parliament after United Democrats (UD) Member of Parliament (MP) and faction leader Franklin Meyers pulled his support from the UD/St. Maarten Christian Party (SMCP) coalition.
Meyers made the surprise announcement just before 10:30am on Monday during his presentation as UD leader during the closing of the parliamentary year. The announcement means that the UD/SMCP coalition now has a minority of seven seats in the 15-seat Parliament, and the opposition National Alliance (NA) and United St. Maarten Party (US Party) have the same total number of members – seven, one of whom (Frans Richardson) is currently incarcerated and not able to attend meetings.
During his presentation, Meyers outlined some of his concerns about the way things are happening.
“As a St. Maartener, as a man and as a father, I cannot continue to be a part of a government in which the outside manipulation is stunting the forward motion of St. Maarten and its people,” Meyers said in closing off his speech. “I cannot be part of a government to do that.
“I have thought long and hard about this. I want to tell my colleagues in Parliament and the people of St. Maarten that as a person, I cannot do this anymore as such, because what we are getting is – it is one thing to say it’s in the best interest of St. Maarten with your mouth, while all of the other actions have shown nothing but selfishness. …
“For too long I have been quiet. I have been a team player and I have kept things that we have discussed within the realm of the party because I felt for the greater good and for the coalition, that’s how it must stay. I find myself defending things that I know to my heart that I cannot defend and I do not like to be in that position.
“Moving forward, the road is even going to be rougher for St. Maarten and its people, but I hereby would like to make an announcement today [Monday – Ed.] that I am officially withdrawing my support from the present government.”
Meyers started his remarks saying that a coalition agreement between SMCP and UD had been signed on April 5, 2018. “On that day, all scenarios were discussed and prior to that day, so we knew what we were getting into, in terms of the road ahead. We knew that the road ahead would have been tough.”
He said St. Maarten at the time had been going through what the Bahamas is experiencing today after being hit by catastrophic Hurricane Dorian.
“We were flat on our backs and had to rebuild this country and we were fresh out of an election. In many cases the situation was not ideal to even have an election to have to form a government,” he said. “However, that ship has already sailed and here we are.”
Government came together to ensure the rebuilding of St. Maarten so that residents could recover, he said. “Those funds coming from the Dutch government have trickled in at a snail’s pace and our people have not been able to get the necessary help, but a lot of the money through good initiatives has been earmarked to other projects, for example, the airport, which is a good thing. …
“But I believe that in all the bureaucracy and politics, the people, who initially needed the funds most, were the ones who did not receive those funds and the scary thing is, by the grace of God we were not hit with a major hurricane in the last two years, so our recovery based on resilience and based on our own economy, we have somewhat spotted along as a country.”
He said SMCP had joined the coalition and had been a true coalition member that at times had been more focused and more committed than UD coalition members, “But this is the situation and the scenario that we find ourselves in right now.”