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The Human Factor in Government
December 29, 2019
The human factor is the most important element in maintaining or destabilizing government. The Informateurs’, Dr. Nilda Arduin and Mr. Jan Beaujon, in their Report of March 2018, entitled “More than the Numbers”, presented the formula for good governance and for stability of Government. Note that in this article the term “government” refers to Parliament and the Council of Ministers combined. The Informateurs, after discussions with the political parties and various stakeholders in the community, came to the conclusion that the two main requirements for good governance and stability of Government are: (1) a well-defined governing program and (2) the human factor. Equipped with this knowledge, the UD/SMCP Coalition in 2018 set out to ensure that in the process of forming a government these two points would be given serious attention.
To be able to develop a clear-cut governing program, the services of a consulting firm were acquired. Also much time and energy were put into discussing and drafting the governing program. Key persons from several ministries were consulted. The views of experts from various sectors in the community were taken into consideration. And to make the governing program more practical the sitting Ministers at that time were included in the discussions as well. Finally, five months after the 2018 elections the Governing Program was signed by the UD/SMCP Coalition. In my opinion, this program contained all the right elements of a good governing program.
The second requirement is the human factor which is key for good governance and stability of government. What is the Human or H-Factor? According to the Report the H-Factor includes “personalities, trust and animosity” amongst the persons forming the coalition. Actually, the report predicted that, no matter the combination of political parties in a coalition government, government would not last four years because of the personalities involved, the lack of trust and the abundance of animosity (hostility and bitterness) amongst the persons in particularly the two largest parties. Armed with this knowledge the UD/SMCP Coalition set out to mitigate the H-Factor by adopting a coalition management agreement in addition to signing the traditional coalition agreement. The coalition management agreement included aspects regarding the leadership structure, communication frequency, conflict resolution, etc. between the UD and the SMCP. Because of our guiding principles, SMCP has been the stable factor in the UD/SMCP Coalition. This has been confirmed many times within the UD faction and in public by MP Franklyn Meyers in particular.
Unfortunately, the H-Factor reared its ugly head in the midst of the Coalition. What the Informateurs predicted came through. Individual personalities began to prevail above party and people’s interests. This became more apparent when MP Heyliger was suspended and was no longer part of the day to day affairs of the Coalition in Parliament. The lack of trust and the prevalence of animosity within the coalition were undeniable and were played out especially between the UD Parliamentarians and their Ministers.
Not only did the H-Factor rear its ugly head within the governing Coalition but it was also prevalent within the opposition in Parliament who continuously influenced some of the UD Members of Parliament. Accusations allegations, blame and endless complaints were hurled at the Ministers and the Government. Unsubstantiated votes of no-confidence were presented. Unfortunately, the H-Factor also played out on the side of the Council of Ministers. Personality differences and trust issues were prevalent. Even though SMCP organized several team building events these did not make a major difference.
When the H-Factor within the UD Coalition reached unmanageable proportions MP Meyers withdrew his support from the Government and declared himself independent. This then precipitated the dissolution of Parliament and the no-confidence motion against Council of Ministers.
The Report “More than the Numbers” is very telling in that it says that even though the numbers are right and the main requirement of a clear cut governing program is in place, the H-Factor actually determines whether good governance takes place and whether a government is stable or not.
Why did SMCP sign on to the dissolution of Parliament?
So now the million-dollar question is why didn’t SMCP break away from the Coalition earlier? One must recall that SMCP campaigned on offering the people a stable government. Since SMCP’s foundational principle is stability then, as a party, one does not seek to break up and throw down government so easily, knowing the serious affect that it will have on the country. Of course the next question is, as a fervent advocate of stability why did SMCP sign on to the dissolution of Parliament? Undoubtedly there was interference, sabotaging and undermining of the coalition as well as the government taking place. In addition, the possibility of the influence by the so-called Cupecoy Government was also very real. When SMCP realized that the H-Factor had spread like a cancer among the parties in Parliament as well as among individual Members of Parliament, SMCP felt that it was time to go back to the people and let the people decide on the Government they would like to have, moving forward. Now, after the dissolution of Parliament we have even seen individual members of the UD/SMCP coalition declaring themselves independent while realigning allegiances with the opposition. We have also seen a shift from one party to the other party taking place within the very same coalition. These shifts have now caused the number of Factions in Parliament to be increased from four to eight.
The Informateurs are right! Realizing a stable government lies in the H-Factor where the “differences in personality, trust and animosity are the real stumbling-blocks in providing the country with a stable Government in the interest of the country and the people”. I pray that when the people go to the polls on January 9, 2020, they can elect 15 statesmen who can rise above the manipulation and put Country above self.
Amendments bring Election Ordinance in Line with the Constitution
December 30, 2019
PHILIPSBURG – Rather than come up with a comprehensive package for electoral reform, MP Wycliffe Smith, in his role as caretaker prime minister, already suggested amendments to the Election Ordinance and the National Ordinance Registration and Financing Political Parties in November. The objective: To bring those ordinances in line with the Constitution.
The proposed amendments are rather simple. Smith, leader of the St. Maarten Christian Party, suggests adding a sub 2 to article 21 of the Election Ordinance (Smith accidentally referred to it as article 19 during a Council of Minister press briefing in November when he was still in office as the caretaker prime minister). The second amendment is to article 16 of the National Ordinance Registration and Financing Political Parties.
Smith’s mistake does not take away from his proposed amendments that aim to overcome a conflict with article 59 of the constitution, which authorizes the Council of Ministers to dissolve parliament. Article 59 stipulates that the new parliament has to be installed within three months after the dissolution decree has been published in the National Gazette.
This is where the constitution comes into conflict with the election ordinance and the ordinance registration and financing political parties.
The election ordinance – in its current state – sets the date for presenting candidates (commonly referred to as postulation day) at 90 to 80 days before the date when the new parliament takes office. That works just fine for regular elections, but not for snap elections.
This became clear when the first dissolution decree was published on September 24; it mentioned October 2 as postulation day – just eight days later, and November 25 as Election Day.
This made it impossible for new parties to register with the Electoral Council for these elections, because the current Election Ordinance stipulates that such a registration must take place more than six weeks before postulation day. Furthermore, new members of the Main Voting Bureau have to be appointed 30 days before postulation day.
When all members of the Main Voting Bureau resigned to protest the unconstitutionality of the process, holding elections on November 25 became virtually impossible.
Therefore, the original dissolution decree of September 24 was amended. It appeared in the National Gazette on October 4 and set the date for postulation at November 21, Election Day at January 9, 2020, and the date for the new parliament to take office at February 10, 2020.
These changes allowed newcomer Party for Progress to register properly and timely for the elections with the Electoral Council.
MP Smith’s proposed amendment to the Election Ordinance narrows the timeframe for postulation to 40 to 45 days before the dissolution of parliament.
Furthermore, Smith drafted a proposal to amend the national ordinance registration and financing political parties. Article 16 of this ordinance currently stipulates that parties that want to take part in elections have to be registered no later than six weeks before postulation day.
Smith’s amendment proposes to change this to just ten days,
Had these amendments been in place before the publication of the dissolution decree on September 24, there would not have been any problem. Postulation Day would not have been the impossible date of October 2, but between December 28, 2019 and January 1, 2020.
That would have given the Party for Progress plenty of time to register with a new deadline between December 18 and December 22.
Smith’s draft amendments are ready for Silveria Jacobs’ interim government to send to parliament for approval, after they have gone through the usual advice procedures.
SMCP Submits A Strong List of 13 Candidates
November 21, 2019
PHILIPSBURG -- On Postulation Day, Thursday, November 21, 2019, the Sint Maarten Christian Party, SMCP, submitted a list of 13 candidates for the upcoming 2020 elections to be held on Thursday, January 9.
The list of 13 candidates are as follows:
#1 - Smith, Wycliffe Sylvester
#2 - Peterson, Claude Alfred Hans
#3 - Somersall, Michael Orlando
#4 - Gittens, Keith Peter-John
#5 - Gibbs, Beverley Denisse
#6 - Bell, Benjamin Stephen
#7 - Nunes geb. Burleson, Tswana
#8 - Sam geb. Arrindell, Marva Rosalinda
#9 - Kotai, Viren Vinod
#10 - York, Linda Cherline
#11 - Rattan geb. Poulo, Marylouse Guillermina
#12 - Rey, Atwell Terrance
#13 - Bute, Alberto Francisco
These 13 candidates will be supported by the board of SMCP consisting of seven (7) members, who are: Party Leader, Wycliffe Smith; President, Jacqueline G. Godet; Vice President, Dylan Smith; Secretary, Eveline John-Roberts; Vice Secretary, Bernice Gumbs; Treasurer, Saskia Farquharson; and Vice Treasurer, Aruska Bell.