Sarah: “PM has no haste with announcing election date and no haste with electoral reform.”

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PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten — The Democratic Party had a party briefing on Sunday, August 6th at the Simpsonbay Resort. “During this meeting, I outlined to  DP candidates the process of election for parliament. This was part of the briefing on the party’s key issues for this campaign, on the campaign itself, and other urgent matters to be dealt with during the coming months, the DP leader explained.

“I did so,  because last week was abuzz again with rumors of an early election. This goes back to statements by the Prime Minister in November last year that elections would be in November 2023, a  statement  later labeled by the Prime Minister as misconstrued.”

“The only way another election date than one in accordance with the Election Ordinance is possible,  is that the government takes a  decision to dissolve the parliament and  government  is then obliged to organize an election and ensure a  new parliamentary is installed  within 3 months”, the DP leader further stated.  

“If indeed there is any truth to the stories that are circulating, we will be right back where we were in 2019, when the government  decided to dissolve the parliament. It  took 3 government decrees to get it right and even so, the dates that were eventually decided on, were not in compliance with the Constitution”. 

The government tried to circumvent this by toying with the effective date of the national decree that dissolved the parliament in 2019,  and the subsequent election on January 9,  2020.

“It must be recalled though, that this was only done  after the Main Voting Bureau members had threatened to resign”. 

“The NA/UP (interim) government’s first order of business should have been to fix these inconsistencies. In fact, that government had committed to do so urgently, along with other reforms such as electoral reform. The NA/UP government has not delivered on any of these fronts. And after both parties lost members of parliament, and a “new” government was formed, the touted electoral reform became a moot point”.

“The issue is that the constitutional order to dissolve parliament and have a new parliament no later than 3 months later, means that nomination (postulation), election, approval of credentials etc., all need to take place within the 3 months period”.

These actions however are interconnected on the basis of the Election Ordinance and in accordance with that ordinance require at least 48 days between postulation and election,  and 80 to 90 days between nomination and the new parliament installation. In 2019, the constitutional order was exceeded to provide the periods mentioned above in the Election Ordinance.

“So  the  next election will be in January 2024. That’s when it has to be! There is no rocket science needed for that. Nomination is  between Nov 12 and Nov. 22, 2023 and election at least 48 days after nomination, Dec. 30 – Jan. 9. 

What I  think the government is weighing however, is when is it politically opportune for this government to announce the election”, MP Wescot concluded in her press release.