Published On: Thu, Feb 15th, 2018

Wescot-Williams and Richardson put electoral reform back on the agenda

Sarah Wescot-Williams 20180214 - HHPHILIPSBURG – Electoral Reform, a pet project of more than one politician since the fall of the second Wescot-Williams cabinet is back on the agenda for two reasons. The first one is that MP Wescot-Williams brought it up on Wednesday; the second reason is a motion MP Frans Richardson – currently detained by the anti-corruption unit for vote buying – submitted in April 2013 to Parliament.

Wescot-Williams said that the Parliament is the right place for a debate about constitutional and electoral reform, “A proposal will shortly come to Parliament about the quotations we have from constitutional experts and constitutional lawyers to help us bring all issues related to electoral reform together.

“Ship jumping – or zetelroof as it is called in the Netherlands – has been a matter of ongoing concern. A lot has already been written about this subject. I suggest that, if necessary, a budget be allocated to receive technical advice so that hopefully we can come up with sustainable proposals.”

In April 2013, MP Frans Richardson tabled a motion in Parliament about electoral reform, but the government did nothing with it. Richardson’s motion focused on combating vote buying but also on ship jumping. Remarkably, at the time Richardson was an independent MP after he had left the National Alliance. On Tuesday he was arrested among other things on suspicion of membership of a criminal organization that aimed to recruit votes for himself.

“Removing the temptation to compete based on how much money a candidate can afford to funnel to voters to influence their vote, levels the playing field for all. It is a matter of fairness. Candidates who do not have the resources simply cannot compete, regardless of how qualified they may be.” Richardson wrote in 2013 in a letter to Wescot-Williams who was then, as she is now, the President of Parliament.

His motion called for calls for a free, fair and balanced election system and for an election campaign code of conduct that would “allow voters to vote freely without intimidation and harassment, or undue influence and bribery.”

Wescot-Williams later reacted to Richardson’s criticism, saying that a lot of what he proposed in his motion has already been regulated by law.