MARIGOT–On Sunday, March 19, voters in French St. Martin will go to the polls to choose the list that will govern the territory for the next five years.
Some 20,152 persons are registered on the electoral list and 19 voter stations are available to cast ballots. This compares to 17, 909 registered in 2012 and 13 voter stations.
Eight lists are contesting the first round of the Territorial Council election on Sunday. The names and heads of the list are as follows: Let’s Continue for St. Martin (Aline Hanson); Movement for Justice and Prosperity (Louis Mussington); Generation Hope (Jules Charville); Team Gibbs 2017 (Daniel Gibbs); MOCSAM (Julien Gumbs), Soualiga Movement (Horace Whit); New Direction (Jeanne Rogers-Vanterpool) and Marching towards Progress (Alain Richardson).
The Territorial Council has 23 seats whose members are elected for five years during two rounds. For a list to win in the first round it has to receive an absolute majority. This was not the case in 2012 and the election went into a second round.
The winning list receives one third of the seats, i.e. 17 to form the majority party while the remaining six seats are distributed between the other lists proportionally, from the most votes down.
In 2012, there were six lists; Triple R (Alain Richardson); Team Daniel Gibbs 2012, Union pour Le Progrès (Louis Constant-Fleming); Saint Martin pour Tous (Marthe Ogoundele); Movement for the Advancement of the People (Louis Mussington) and Generation Solidaire (Dr. Louis Jeffry).
Neither Alain Richardson nor Daniel Gibbs secured enough votes in the first round to win; Richardson 34.13 per cent and Gibbs 32.04 per cent. The four other parties dropped out after the first round, or endorsed either Richardson or Gibbs.
Alain Richardson went on to win the election in the second round with 5,451 votes (56.85%) to claim 17 seats. Gibbs received 4,137 votes (43.15%) and settled for six seats in the opposition.
Will 2017 see a replay between Alain Richardson and Gibbs and a reversal of fortune for Gibbs? A random look at Facebook a few days ago showed Gibbs attracting 971 “likes” but without an up to date and reputable opinion poll or survey it is hard to say how popular the lists are.
Will voter turnout be any more enthusiastic than it was in 2012 where only 9, 871 voted in the second round (55.12 %)? There were 8,038 abstentions (44.88).
All will be revealed on Sunday night.