Published On: Thu, Nov 9th, 2023

It’s official: Elections on January 11, 2024

PHILIPSBURG — It’s official: parliamentary elections will take place on January 11, 2024, and parties will have to submit their lists of candidates on November 22. The government published the national decree that determines these dates in a special edition of the National Gazette on Wednesday.

One thing remains unclear though and that is whether the electorate will vote for a parliament of 15 seats or for a parliament of 17 seats. Article 45 of the constitution states that the parliament consists of 15 members if the population is below 60,000. With a population between 60,000 and 70,000 parliament gets 17 seats.

An analysis of the local labor market by Economic Bureau Amsterdam in collaboration with Tackling Law states that the size of the population is “highly uncertain.” St. Maarten’s bureau for statistics (STAT) reported that the population in 2022 was 42,759. But three years earlier the civil registry came up with a different and much higher number: 61,750. The reason or the cause for this remarkable discrepancy is unclear.

The national decree that sets election date at January 11, furthermore notes that the new parliament will take office for the first time on February 10, 2024.

The decree refers to three articles from the Constitution, two from the electoral ordinance and to the national ordinance that regulates the registration and the finances of political parties.

Articles 46 and 47 of the Constitution refer to the term of a parliament (four years) and to the fact that its members are elected based on proportional representation. Article 48 states that parliamentarians are elected by those residents of St. Maarten who have the Dutch nationality and have reached the age of 18. Banned from voting are those who have been irrevocably sentenced to prison for at least one year and whose right to vote has been taken away.

Article 21 of the electoral ordinance stipulates that parties submit their lists of candidates between the 90th and the 80th day before the end of the term of parliament. The number of days between November 22 and February 10, 2024 is 80 if both November 22 and February 10 are not counted and 82 if these dates are included.

Article 40 states that Election Day is at least 48 days after the day parties submit their lists of candidates. In this case, the number of days between November 22 and January 11 is 49 if November 22 and January 11 are not counted, and 51 if these dates are included.

From a press release issued by the Ministry of General Affairs it appears that the voter registry closed on October 23. There are 22,553 registered voters, of which 10,647 are male and 11,906 are female.

Interestingly, the number of registered voters is lower than it was during the 2020 elections (23,130), almost even with the number of voters during the 2018 elections (22,559) and much lower than the number of registered voters for the 2016 election (23,302).

In 2020, of the 23,130 registered voters, 13,735 cast a vote – a turnout of 59.44 percent, so the number of votes required to win one seats was (13,735:15) 915.

If voter turnout is going to be as disappointing this time as it was in 2020 (59.44%) the number of votes cast will be something like 13,405 – 330 less than in 2020. In this scenario, winning a seat in parliament requires 894 votes.

Parties taking part in the upcoming elections that did not win a seat in 2020 require support for their lists of candidates: 1 percent of the number of votes cast in 2020. In this case such parties require 137 signatures to be able to participate.