Published On: Sun, Aug 9th, 2020

Every voter must buy a copy of this book

“The Constitution of Sint Maarten – When it is time to vote”
By author Hensley G.A. Plantijn
A book review for StMaartenNews.com by Terrance Rey

The Constitution of Sint Maarten – When it is time to vote - book by Hensley Plantijn

~ People must buy this book if they want to fully understand our parliamentary system and the election process that governs the selection of representatives in Parliament. ~

Someone with practical and hands-on experience in this field wrote this book. The author seems to have been privy to or part of the various discussions and debates on constitutional issues (such as the use of Article 59) and the ongoing debates surrounding the application and validity of the election and electoral ordinances.

But of course, he is, because Hensley G.A. Plantijn is the Secretary General of the Ministry of General Affairs for the Government of Sint Maarten.

Sidebar: For more information about author Hensley Plantijn’s background as an expert on constitutional matters, read our interview article in INSIDE St. Maarten magazine online at https://issuu.com/insidestmaarten/docs/inside_st_maarten_vol2.

Since 2016, subjects of these debates include, for example, the setting of the election date and relevant deadline dates leading up to party and voter registration and the closing off of these registrations.

So, here are my thoughts and comments after reading this book…

There are certain restrictions to participating in the election process, including age limit, residency, and Dutch nationality. All those not restricted are eligible to vote (active voting right) or to stand and be voted for (passive voting right). Only those eligible to vote can be members of a political party’s association. The party association selects the candidates who participate in the election.

The book contains several interesting topics that are worthy of extensive debate.

For instance, I believe the rule that allows only those eligible to vote to be members of a political party’s association should be abolished. The electorate is only a percentage of the total population that contributes to the well-being of the island. According to the book, the entire population should be allowed to influence and determine the island’s political future, given that the elected representatives represent the interests of all citizens of Sint Maarten.

Another interesting topic is whether a government that has lost a vote of no-confidence can use Article 59 of the Constitution to dissolve Parliament and call for new (snap) elections. See https://stmaartennews.com/parliament/current-political-situation as a reference.

In the book, author Hensley Plantijn promises to discuss this topic in a future book. I am looking forward to that book.

I believe this book should be sold as an accompanying reader with books on the laws of Sint Maarten.

Who should buy this book?

People who want to form a political party, party members, board members and candidates, members of the Electoral Council, voting bureaus, members and staff of Parliament, civil servants, the electorate, citizens, and all other interested persons.

Plantijn writes that the principle of a democratic system is “one man, one vote.” We can equate that to “one book, one vote” because I believe every voter should buy it. This book should be read in every secondary and tertiary school.

Learning the basic knowledge of our democratic election system and understanding the fundamentals and principles of the process will significantly improve participation in the process and procedures.

Teaching this book in school will improve patriotism and nation-building. Heck, it might even help stop the phenomenon of vote-selling. Readers will learn that the election process is the foundation of the people’s right to representation and participation in our country’s governance.

Understanding the fundamental human rights issues involved in the process is a prerequisite to attaining a certain level and quality of self-governance and self-determination. It is true every voter must buy a copy of this book.

This book “The Constitution of Sint Maarten – When it is time to vote” by Hensley G.A. Plantijn is now on sale for $15 US Dollars at the Van Dorp locations in Madame Estate and Simpson Bay and at The Family Bookstore in Philipsburg. Or whatsapp +1-721-588-0800 to get a free copy when buying a Yearly subscription from http://stmaartennews.com/subscriptions.

If you are in the US, you can order a copy online on Amazon via this link: https://amzn.to/3cByBP7

Finally, watch a recorded interview on Facebook for more information about this new St. Maarten-based author: https://www.facebook.com/981pearlfmsxm/videos/900095533808681

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Related links:
Interview article with Hensley Plantijn in INSIDE St. Maarten magazine
Example of when a government that has lost a vote of no-confidence used Article 59
Buy a Yearly subscription plan online here
Order this book on Amazon
Recorded interview with Hensley Plantijn on Facebook
Electoral reform: the Lynch-law under review – part 1
Electoral reform: the Lynch-law under fire – part 2

Book Cover Hensley Plantijn - Flyer