Published On: Mon, Sep 5th, 2022

A fractured political landscape

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By Hilbert Haar

The coalition of National Alliance and United People’s party is close to collapse after UP-MP Ludmila de Weever declared herself independent. Sure, the numbers are with 8 to 7 still in favor of the governing parties but how long will this last?

That question is legitimate after UP-MP and chairlady of parliament Grisha Heyliger-Marten voted in favor of a motion that would have sent Minister Doran home. In this sense, the vote of MP Chanel Brownbill (who voted against the motion) saved the day for the coalition and for the embattled minister.

Independent MP Akeem Arrindell also had a swing-vote, but he voted against the motion, unlike the three other independents who votes all in favor.

Doran may have survived the motion of no confidence, but the political landscape in St. Maarten is more fractured than ever. MPs seem to be more loyal to themselves than to the party that helped them to a cozy seat in parliament.

Just look at the results of the 2020 elections. The threshold to win one seat was 889 votes. Not a single candidate from any party won that many votes. It seems therefore fair to say that all current members of parliament obtained their position on the strength of their party-list.

NA-candidate and now VROMI-Minister Egbert Doran came the closest to the threshold with 865 votes. Other relatively high-scoring candidates were Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs (752), NA-candidate and now independent MP Christophe Emmanuel (685) and UP-candidate and current chairlady of parliament Grisha Heyliger-Marten (656).

The currently independent MPs sailed into parliament on the strength of their party-list. Ludmilla de Weever (UP) won 266 votes in 2020, Akeem Arrindell (USp) 228 and Solange Duncan 161.

Yet the fate of the government now seems to be in the hands of four independents who won between them 1,340 votes. The combined votes of three of them (De Weever, Arrindell and Duncan) are not even enough to win a single seat. It is only due to the contribution of MP Emmanuel’s 685 votes that the four manage to get to a more or less respectable total that would have won them one seat. But they have four of them.

Is that fair? Silly question, because it is what it is and what we see is the result of the current electoral system. Political scientist Julio Rombley submitted a draft amendment to the electoral ordinance to parliament seven years ago, in 2015.

This draft contains an interesting, though controversial, proposal: to make a difference between elected and non-elected candidates. An elected candidate is someone who won a number of votes equal to or higher than the quota (number of valid votes divided by number of available seats). Candidates who win fewer votes are labeled as non-elected.

Romney proposes that those ‘non-elects’ who have nevertheless obtained a seat in parliament, serve at the pleasure of their party; they are not allowed to declare themselves independent or align with another party. If they feel no longer at home with the party, they will have to surrender their seat.

This may seem a simple and logical solution to the political instability that has plagued St. Maarten ever since it became an autonomous country in the Kingdom in 2010.

I am not a political scientist, like Mr. Romney, but I dare to say: that is not going to work.


Well, a member of parliament is making a lot of money. Last time I looked the remuneration for an MP was around 19,500 guilders per month. That’s a lot of Johnny cakes.

So what is an MP going to do if he or she no longer feels at home with a party, be it the NA, the UP or any other party present in  parliament? Is he (or she) going to slaughter the chicken that lays that golden egg on a monthly basis by taking a hike? I don’t think so.


Because they have a much easier option. It is called voting their conscience. So an unhappy MP, who would during the past decade have taken the easy way out by declaring him (or her) self independent, will now stay put and pay no heed to the wishes of the party that delivered such a cozy job to the honorable MP.

No sir, they could vote every which way and there is not a damn thing their party can do about it. Of course, such stubborn MPs would not get any faction support, but who cares? The money keeps rolling in and they would not even have to bother showing up for meetings. They could go on a long vacation until the next election rolls around. By that time, their fairytale run of doing absolutely nothing is obviously over.

But you see, this is what you get with would-be politicians who put self before country instead of the other way around. As long as that mentality prevails, I think I will be long dead before anyone comes up with a workable solution for the ship jumping phenomenon.