National Election Day Address by the Prime Minister of St. Maarten the Honorable Sarah Wescot-Williams

The first Parliament of our Country is nearing its end. In a few weeks the first four-year term, which started on October 10th 2010, will be over. As your first appointed Prime Minister in 2010 I promised you then that I would amongst other things build a strong foundation for our new country. Bridge the social and political divides and work for all of the people of St. Maarten. I would work to strengthen the delicate social fabric with strong and lasting fibers and to make it work. I begun the process of building this young country of ours and have had the opportunity to lead three governments; to run the Ministry of General Affairs and to represent St. Maarten at many international forums. But the most important role has been to encourage, stimulate and promote the building of our young country.


We have had some turbulent times and many lessons have been learned but through it all I have been able to provide the stability and governance and have been the rock on which our country was able to progress. In fact I am convinced that the stability and the resilience that our country has demonstrated these past years is a credit to this steadfastness. And so, at this juncture and milestone we must reflect on how far we have come in spite of it all.


Many of the last fourteen years have been dominated by the efforts to accomplish the political desire as expressed by the people of St. Maarten in the constitutional referendum of 2000. I took this mandate of the people and made it my focus and served it with all of the passion and energy that I had to give. After many long days and months we all bore witness to the proud moment of October 10th 2010. Although there were voices of resistance along the way we held on and we succeeded. Together we accomplished a feat that many described as impossible.


The leadership and stability during the last years allowed for many major accomplishments; we accomplished our airport and harbor port; we improved education through foundation-based education in all our schools and guided new vocational training opportunities. We beautified many places across the country including Philipsburg and St. Peters; we improved roads and built roundabouts, community centers, the festival village; the Simpson Bay Fish Market; the W. PLantz Jetty in Philipsburg; the Melford Hazel Auditorium and a new Fire and Ambulance Department. We improved our energy infrastructure with new engines for GEBE and installed a fiber optic cable. We also undertook the very important social and economic initiatives and helped improve the standard of life for our citizens. These were all tangible and visible projects that were integral to the growth and the development of our country.


However, progress is all about institutions. The constitutional foundation was laid and the institutions that provide the necessary checks and balances like the Council of Advice, the Council for the Enforcement of Justice and the Ombudsman were created. These institutions, as well as the court of justice, served to protect the people against misuse and abuse. They are an important part of our democracy.

The country that is St. Maarten today is government by a new Government structure. This is an accountable and disciplined government that requires knowledge and experience to manage and maximize the new authorities and competencies we have acquired. We need Ministers who understand and respect the office they occupy and Parliamentarians who will continue to put country first and above all else. Now we need to consolidate our gains and work on new ones.


Fellow St. Maarteners,


In just twenty-four hours on the 29th of August, you the voters of St. Maarten are called to vote, one of the bedrocks of our Democratic System. This election will put forward persons elected for the second Parliament for our country, starting on the 10th of October 2014 for term of four years.


This has been a long and oftentimes confusing campaign season, with political parties presenting their candidates and all of their ideas to the voters, hoping to get the mandate from the people to govern this country for the next four years. It has sometimes also been a confusing campaign, with many saying things and doing things that we would have not expected from our friendly island, but indeed this is politics and when the dust is settled after Election Day I hope we all remember that we have to share this island that we so lovingly call home. Having said that I call on all to move away from negativity and divisiveness and realize that it is many who call our island home and that voting, and that voting, indeed contesting an election, is a fundamental part of our growth as a nation.


I would also like to urge everyone who is eligible to vote to do so early and to do so with a clear conscience. Fair and free elections are the most important acts that you can do to as a citizen of a democratic society. Vote for whom you think can represent you as an individual and represent all St. Maarteners for the next four years and who will make this country into a shining beacon in the region in terms of transparency and good governance. Do not fall into the trap of vote buying or any spurious activity that will bring our democracy into question or indeed bring the reputation of St. Maarten into disrepair. Exercise your right and exercise it truthfully and honestly as a citizen of this great country.


Similarly it is quite easy to get caught up in the excitement that Election Day brings with it. Remember that this is a serious occasion, one that has significant consequences for not only the next four years but in the overall development of this country. I also urge the community to act according to the law and not intimidate or coerce anyone who is exercising their democratic right to vote. Be civil and respectful of others as they should be of you, and realize the seriousness of that most fundamental of acts that so many around the world are not able to do; to democratically choose our representative in Parliament.


Lastly, I urge all citizens to respect the outcome of the elections, to adhere to the mandate that has been given democratically by the voters to those whom they see fit to represent the people and govern this land. We have to acknowledge and put trust in the democratic system and the working thereof.


Put your confidence in a Parliament that will represent you for four years and who will elect a Council of Ministers that will run Government for the next four years, for all of the people of St. Maarten.


I wish all political parties and their candidates the best of luck and urge all candidates to keep themselves to the electoral laws of this country. I wish all of St. Maarten a peaceful fruitful election day and may all respect the mandate that is given by the people to those they see fit to govern and represent. God bless St. Maarten and its people,


Remember that once elections are over it is no longer about individuals or their ideas, their pet projects or their vision. It then becomes about we, we the people and those that will govern us.


I thank you and I wish you good luck and I hope that God continues to bless this nation of ours where we will have to continue to live and respect on another before, during and after election.”