Gracita Arrindell leads PPA in elections


~ Has orange become  the new green? ~

Source: Today Newspaper

GREAT BAY – “Lack of leadership, not sticking to commitments and turning their back on the people of St. Maarten,” said Gracita Arrindell yesterday about her reasons for leaving the United People’s Party and returning to the revived People’s Progressive Alliance (PPA) as its leader for the September 26 parliamentary elections. Arrindell declined to elaborate on that statement, saying that “everything else is melee and I am not interested in it.”

The PPA-leader hosted a press conference at a conference room of the Pasanggrahan Hotel. Oranje fabric – the party’s color – covered the entrance door and the table where she was seated. A PPA-banner and a poster with a more than life size picture of the party leader (Vote PPA; strong, stable secure St. Maarten) graced the room. Has orange become the new green?

Arrindell does not want to deal with that green past with the UP, she is looking at the future. “In 2010, the PPA was approached by the UP to work together and we did that,” is the only thing she wants to say about it.

The PPA burst onto the political scene in 2003, after Arrindell left the Democratic Party and spearheaded a campaign that gave the party one seat in the Island Council. In the 2007 elections, the PPA failed to hang on to that seat and when the elections in 2010 came around, Arrindell won a parliament seat as a member of the United People’s party. In the 2014 elections, she did not win enough votes to keep her seat.

The defeat at the polls did not bring her down; Arrindell stepped away from politics, but six months ago she began working with party president Don Hughes on an election program that aims to change the political landscape. “There will be a new way of doing politics in St. Maarten,” she said at the press conference, “The old way has to stop.”

Asked however whether the PPA would work together with a party that has a candidate with a criminal conviction to his name, Arrindell became evasive, saying that “everybody deserves a second chance” and that it is up to the electorate to decide whether they want to elect someone like that.

Other than that, Arrindell was as assertive as ever (more than before, she said), even telling journalists that the PPA “is going to win these elections.”

The party will not go to battle with a full list of 23 candidates, but how many there will be in the mix remains unclear because the party-leader did not want to give a number. “It will not be a full list, but a formidable one,” she said. “I have always been a fighter and this is about the people. The focus of our campaign will be on the people, it is not about bashing others. After the elections we will work with any party that is willing to subscribe to the main components of out election program. We will be different, not only in our campaign, but also in our manifesto.”

That manifesto, Arrindell said later, will be published sometime in July, therefore before postulation day on August 8.

Arrindell said that ship jumping occurs due to a lack of leadership and that her party will therefore pay careful attention to the screening of the candidates it will field in the elections. “As a leader, I give my word to the people to ensure that the candidates on the list honor that as well.”

In a prepared statement, Arrindell said that the PPA-candidates would “shoulder their responsibility as citizens against all odds. People feel left out, but they must participate and get involved in the process.”

The party-leader said that the instability that has plagued the country since its inception in 2010 is “unbearable” and that since the island obtained country status the percentage of people living in poverty has increased.

The PPA therefore aims for “social inclusion and new economic value” with the objective to “create value for everyone in the community.”

Full employment for the next decade and beyond, locally driven economic activity and less foreign investment and a focus on the people who stay on the island and contribute are some of the focal points Arrindell brought forward.

She also addressed short and long term thinking. “Many politicians do not see further than the next elections, or tomorrow. We must go beyond that horizon. We know we have to earn the trust of the electorate with a workable plan and a committed team. We believe this can be done and that we will win these elections. The people deserve better.”

PPA-leader Drs. Gracita Arrindell. Photo Today / Hilbert Haar