Published On: Fri, Feb 22nd, 2019

True colors

Parliament meeting on PSS - 18 Feb 2019

By Hilbert Haar

This morning the political life of Prime Minister Leona Romeo-Marlin and Tourism and Economic Affairs Minister Stuart Johnson hangs in the balance. There are two motions of no confidence on the table and the meeting where these motions will be handled begins at 10am.

The arrest of MP Theo Heyliger has put the government coalition in quite a pickle. With his presence, and assuming that all members of the governing coalition show up in the meeting, the motions would most likely be defeated, unless there is a snake hiding in the UD-grass.

Sarah Wescot-Williams 20170515 - HHAs things stand right now, the coalition-members better show up. With MP Sarah Wescot-Williams chairing the meeting as the parliament’s president, the opposition would have a field day if the coalition comes up short. If only one UD-MP, or its coalition partner Claude Peterson (Christian Party) fails to show up, it seems a done deal.

In a scenario with all available MPs present – fourteen in total – the motions could die on a 7-7 vote, unless the opposition gets one vote from the other side.

There is however another scenario whereby just one coalition-MP decides not to attend the meeting. That no-show would give the opposition the upper hand to send Romeo-Marlin and Johnson home. In my opinion, staying away from such a meeting is the same as casting a vote in favor of the opposition.

This morning therefore, MPs will have to show their true colors. The government will be thrown into a tailspin if the motions pass. In that case, the prime minister and minister Johnson have no other option than to pack up and go. For the remaining members of the Council of Ministers it will be near impossible to remain in their seats because they won’t have a majority in parliament anymore, making it impossible to – for instance – get the 2019 budget approved.

It is a horror-scenario without winners that will not do the country any good. Being critical of the government is one thing, overthrowing that government during this time of ongoing crisis is just irresponsible. The cost is simply too high.

If political short-sightedness wins the day – and given the country’s recent political history that is an unfortunate but realistic perspective – St. Maarten will not be moving forward but backwards.

If these opportunistic motions fail, it will be business as usual. While there is no hope – this is the best the citizens of our country can hope for.


Related article:
The road to UD-leader Theo Heyliger’s potential downfall