USP: Clarification to be sought on proportional representation

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PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — The board of the United St. Maarten Party Party (USP) will seek further clarification into what it deems as a serious constitutional issue after both of its MP’s, Claudius Buncamper and Akeem Arrindell, declared themselves as independent members of Parliament, leaving the party with no representation in Parliament.

The board recently met with Dr. Julio Romney, Scholar of Comparative Government & Politics who has also publicly considered the latest developments as a constitutional crisis. The discussions between the US board and Romney centered on the analysis of proportional representation as detailed in the constitution and the electoral law. Both the constitution and electoral law speaks to the allocation of seats in parliament to the party list and not individual candidates.

The allocation of seats to party list is based on the proportion of votes the party list receives. US party received 1762 votes in the 2020 parliamentary elections the amount of votes necessary for a seat was 889: in essence the 2 MPs combined did even not meet the quota for one seat. The United St Maarten Party got 2 seats these individuals did not accumulate enough votes to represent half of seat

“The US board questioned who holds the seat according to the constitution, who are the Independent members of Parliament representing? What portions of the population are they representing based on their numbers? Who holds the seat according to the constitution? Is it the party or is it the individuals,” President of the USP board Cecil Nicholas said.

“We also questioned how the Electoral Council recognizes independent members of Parliament given the fact that the electoral law that governs the electoral council only recognizes or speaks to Party list, it does not recognize individuals. Parliament has recognized the individual MPs as factions, but the seat according to the electoral laws belong to the party list, and if the party should be represented based on the seats awarded, then what does that say to the fact that the key principles of a parliamentary system is supposed to be the party,” Nicholas added.

He said following the discussion with Romney the party will consider next steps in its efforts to finally obtain answers to questions that the public and various factions has asked over the years. “Bottom line is individuals contested the elections on a cohesive party platform. The 1,762 people that voted for the US party expected representation because they believed in US and its platform of ideas and possible initiatives. Selfish actions that leave voters unrepresented cannot be what were intended through the constitution,” Nicholas concluded.