A second chance to do things right

Jeanne Rogers-Vanterpool, Member of the Executive and the Territorial Council Of the Collectivité of Saint Martin


St. James, Marigot – I would like to thank all the voters in St. Martin who came out to vote on the occasion of the 1st round, last Saturday, November 19, of the Primary of the Right and Center.

I also want to thank the voters who voted for Alain Juppé and made it possible for him to earn 128 votes. This placed him in third place and 44 votes behind Nicolas Sarkozy who placed first on Saint Martin, but who was ultimately eliminated from the contest and soundly rejected at both the Overseas and the National level.

François Fillon’s surprising and brilliant performance is to be congratulated and Alain Juppé took precedence in the Overseas Territories while earning 28% of the overall vote. Finally, I want to thank all members, supporters, fans, volunteers, the delegates and accessors who worked at the 2 polling stations.

However, the participation figure of 471 voters on Saint Martin, (2.47% of voters against 9.07% nationally), was very disappointing. This low turnout, however, can be clearly explained by a process that the online press denounced a week ago as an “electoral hold-up.”

This low turnout can also be explained by a total absence of any explanation to the population of the real issues of this primary. This democratic debate should have been proposed and organized by local representatives of Les Republicans and by the current Member of Parliament and Territorial Councilor who is the legal representative of the party on our territory.

This lack of action on their part, effectively, stifled the debate on the views and ideas of the contenders for the mantle of candidate of the Right in the Presidential elections of 2017. It also deprived Saint Martiners of an opportunity to make up their minds and cast their votes for the possible next President of the Republic.

In addition, as a population, the seeming lack of reaction, creates a view of a people lacking in ideas and opinions who have little concern for their country. We as a population have never been shy to express our views or take on the tough questions that concern our future. Given the information and opportunity, I have to believe that we would have done better, because, make no mistake, this election concerned us in several fundamental ways.

First of all, given the current economic, social, security and developmental malaises under which we currently suffer, it was important that we cast a vote for a potential partner at the national level. We are in need of reforms at the level of our status, as well as, regulations that touch on issues such as social charges, expansion of the working week to include Sundays, and the compensation payments to France that continue to weaken our development prospects.

Other issues for which we need partnerships with the State touch on how the security of our island is carried out, educational reforms, making our territory more competitive regionally and on and on. The need for partnership touch on real “bread and butter” issues, as well as, our wellbeing as a society and developing opportunities for our youth, many of whom are totally disenfranchised.

This Primary was not just the business of the Right and the Center and it was certainly not the business of any one politician and his supporters to stifle a debate that truly concerns us all.

Any vote that impacts the wellbeing of the populace is the business of the people. It should be their choice to decide not to vote but it can never be the choice of any person or group to highjack the debate by failing to make sure that the people are informed.

The guarantee of fair elections is a principle of our Republic that should never be undermined. There is a saying that “the one-eyed man is King in the country of the blind.” Here on Saint Martin we have gone past the era when we were spoon fed, intimidated and told what to think. We are past the era when dirty “politricks” and political maneuvering in the shadows was the way our leaders led.

Thankfully, the tidal wave that was expected here for Nicolas Sarkozy was avoided along with the negatives that could have ensued. Fortunately, once again, those in the positions of responsibility have the opportunity to provide us with the information necessary and have another chance to open a true debate of ideas, something that this important plebiscite deserves.

I look forward to hearing the ideas and the pros and cons in support of both François Fillon and Alain Juppé. I continue to advocate for Alain Juppe, of course. I do, however, look forward to an exercise in true democracy, a debate of ideas followed by a vote that results in a winner. The people in responsible for conducting this election have a second chance to do things right.

This is how politics is done on Saint Martin. Let’s get on with it.

Jeanne Rogers-Vanterpool

Member of the Executive and the Territorial Council

Of the Collectivité of Saint Martin