Published On: Mon, Oct 17th, 2022

Parliamentary Democracy at its finest

What happened today, Monday, October 17, 2022, in Parliament is Parliamentary Democracy at its finest. A motion to add an agenda point to today’s public meeting of Parliament to have MP Grisha Heyliger-Marten removed as the Parliament’s Chairperson was unceremoniously shot down by 9 members of parliament voting across party lines showing their disapproval of this proposal.

We saw today Members of Parliament voting according to their conscience and not according to party politics. That is the old school way of doing things. Voting according to party lines is a tradition that will soon go the way of the dinosaurs. We see the older generation of MPs blindly voting based on what the party dictates or on what one member wants based on his or her personal agenda. We hope that members such as William Marlin, George Pantophlet and Hyacinth Richardson will see that in this day and age of Individualism you have to respect and allow your party colleagues and coalition members to vote – and we quote President of Parliament Grisha Heyliger-Martin’s press release today loosely – “based on their true convictions and to vote their conscience based on their individual free mandates.”

We saw this also happening today within the PFP faction whereby MP Melissa Gumbs voted for and her party colleague MP Rayheon Peterson voted against the amendment to adjust the 12,5% cut in the civil servants salaries, whereby the amendment ultimately passed with 12 votes for and 3 against (including MPs Christophe Emmanuel and Sarah Wescot-Williams). This was the actual agenda of today’s public meeting.

All in all, today was a good day in St. Maarten’s short but stormy parliamentary history. People automatically concluded that with 9 votes against MP Grisha Heyliger-Marten position being challenged as president of parliament, the government (read Jacobs II cabinet) no longer enjoyed the full support of Parliament and therefore, de facto, the government had fallen. No. The principle of voting according to one’s conscience was put to the test today and admirably – and finally – the people saw MPs did what they thought was the right thing to do.

It does not mean the majority of them do not support the government. They simply sent a clear message what Parliament stood for and what it would not allow under its watch. There are lessons to be learnt here from this occasion today. It was a day many for many reasons will not forget. In conclusion, it was Parliamentary Democracy at its finest!


Related links:
Grisha grateful for majority support to remain President of Parliament
Opinion: How MP Brison orchestrated his own downfall
Meeting of Parliament where the motion to add an agenda point did not carry