The following is the presentation to the Rotary Club on February 24th 2010 from Island Council Lady Mrs.Sarah Wescot-Williams.


online casino


FEBRUARY 24, 2010


Just a few months ago, it has all seemed so "simple" as far as elections for country St. Martin were concerned.

Country status was on track; in September 2009, the date of 10-10-10 was pinned down as the date of the new statuses, including that of country St. Martin.

What is the meaning of 10-10-10? Except to having a nice ring to it, there is no significance to the date itself.

Personally I believe that the date of 10-10-10 would have in any case been a ceremonial one, as to change your whole political system in the middle of the year, middle of the month and on a Sunday could complicate matters.

Be that as it may, that date was pinned.

In the year 2010, therefore elections would have had to be held for the parliaments of the new countries to be elected.

You would recall that late last year it was the intention of the central government to postpone the Antillean parliamentary elections, due in January 2010 in favor of elections for the parliaments of the new entities later in the same year.

That intention changed, because of the political climate on Curacao.

When Antillean parliamentary elections became inevitable, we suggested that the life of the Antillean Parliament which was to be elected, be tied to the date of the new statuses.

That did not happen.

So we have an Antillean Parliament that will sit there until…the new countries are established, have their elections and subsequently their own parliaments.

Elections are governed by the electoral laws and currently we have 2 sets of these laws, one that governs island council elections and one that governs parliamentary elections.

The major difference between these 2, is the way that seats are allotted to candidates on the different lists, once the list has obtained one or more seats.

In the case of the island council election, more than a decade ago this was changed to allow the seat allocation of the basis of the amount of individual votes and not on the basis of the position of the candidate on the list, as it is with the Antillean parliamentary elections.

For country St. Martin, a new electoral law was drafted, more or less in line with the current island electoral law. In other words, the system of seat allocation in country St. Martin will also be on the basis of the votes a candidate receives and not on the position of the candidate on the slate.

Let me hasten to add, that this particular draft law, which is referred to as an organic law, because its basis is in the Constitution of Country St. Martin, has not yet been passed by the Island Council of St. Martin.

These (organic) laws are drafted as country SXM laws; they must be adapted by the island council of St. Martin as island ordinances, but will be become country laws (ordinances) when St. Martin is declared country by change of the Kingdom charter.

A noteworthy remark in this respect is that the draft electoral law for country St. Martin re-introduces voting by proxy. I’m sure that with the handling of this law in the island council of St. Martin, this particular topic will generate quite some debate.

In the meantime however, elections are governed by one of the 2 existing electoral laws.

In the case of St. Martin, the current 4-yrs island council term runs up to July 2011.

Since the decision to have parliamentary elections in January 2010 was taken and elections were held, everything else remaining the same, sometime before October 2010, (approximately a month and a half before then), elections for country St. Martin would be due.

According to our draft constitution, these elections would be for the 15-member Parliament of country St. Martin.

The proposed change to the Kingdom charter which will take place by Kingdom law, established that after the constitutions of the new country are adapted, elections for the new countries will be held.

After all, the bedrock of the country St. Martin is its constitution. Of any country in fact!

The change to the Kingdom charter currently on the books proposes that the constitution for country St. Martin, as/when adopted by the island council as island ordinance will become the constitution for country St. Martin, when this country status goes into effect.

It must however be passed by a 2/3 majority of the island council and must carry the approval of the Kingdom government.

If not adopted by a 2/3 majority of the island council, the island council should be dissolved and elections should be called. That is what the change to the Charter envisages.

With arguments such as; increased work load of Commissioners, transfer of tasks to the islands, a federal ordinance has been drafted to change the Islands Regulation of the Netherlands Antilles.

This change to Islands Regulation will make it possible for the island council to call (early) elections for the island council. This, according to this proposed change, will be(come) possible after the island council passes the constitution for country St. Martin with a simple majority.

This new island council will consists of 15 island council members.

This proposed change to the Islands regulation will also make it possible to expand the amount of Commissioners to 7, after the island council has been dissolved and new elections have been called.

10-10-10: would have been attainable after

1. The provisions put in place and guarantees given by St. Martin to assume responsibility for all tasks from the Central government are deemed to be adequate.

2. The Dutch Parliament passes the kingdom laws necessary for the new countries (Police, Public Prosecution, Financial Supervision, Court of Justice and change to the Charter).

With the fall of the 4th Balkenende cabinet, the discussion is whether the deliberations in the Second Chamber will continue or, that the Antillean dossier as it is called, will be considered "controversial" and put off for a new Dutch Parliament and a new Kingdom Government.

My suspicion is that the Chamber will lean towards the minority view and stall the handling of the Kingdom laws dealing with the constitutional changes in the Netherlands Antilles, except maybe for the BES laws.

Already voices are going up for an 11-11-11. Same story holds true here as for 10-10-10, although added to that is that of course 11-11 is St. Martin Day.

Is there opportunity in this adversity?

I believe there is.

Many are the areas that are affected by the transition from island territory to country.

Much of this is regulated in the Constitution for Country St. Martin. We need to continue talking about these issues as a community. The Constitution is more than another law. It’s a social contract between government and the people.

Health is also a major issue for our new country. Let’s not circumvent the necessary discussions, but start to deal with them now. A general health insurance is no small feat. The success will not be in how good it is written, but how well it is understood and implemented.

Taxes: With all the re-organization plans for the tax inspectorate of country St. Martin, the economic reality today and its effect on businesses and their ability to comply require immediate attention. It is not as rosy out there as some would like to think.

Crime: again with the impending reorganization, the reality of the day requires not only action, but coordinated action.

Immigration, idem ditto.

Our noses need to be pointed in the same direction. Not only the political noses. Public discourse is a prerequisite.

With respect to early elections for the island council according to the change to the Islands Regulation, that will become the Parliament of Country St. Martin, my fear that after this election, we would be hanging some-where in between an island territory and country, and this feeling has only be strengthened by the recent developments in the Netherlands.