Sint Maarten goes to the polls Jan 9
The people of Sint Maarten are just days away from voting in the January 9, 2020 snap elections.
On September 23, 2019, the country was placed on notice that it would initially be going to the polls on November 25 to elect a new Parliament.
This came about after the Council of Ministers, led by former Prime Minister Leona Romeo Marlin, submitted a draft National Decree invoking article 59 of the constitution, triggering the snap election.
Her government (United Democrats/St Maarten Christian Party coalition) had lost its majority in Parliament due to political infighting.
However, an amendment was made to the decree so that the election for the new Parliament would take place on January 9, 2020, and the dissolution of Parliament on February 10.
The interim government is currently led by Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs and a nine-member majority coalition (National Alliance, United St Maarten Party, along with two Independent MPs) which took up the mantle in mid-November.
Seven registered parties are offering candidates who will vie for the 15 parliamentary seats.
Here’s a look at the various political parties.
Political leader: Silveria Jacobs (Prime Minister)
Number of candidates: 22
Manifesto main points: During interviews, Prime Minister Jacobs had stressed the importance of making St Maarten financially independent again, implementing reform in the education sector as well as diversifying the economy from its reliance on tourism.
Party for Progress
Political leader: Melissa Gumbs
Number of candidates: 9
Manifesto main points: The Pary for Progress states that it intends to address the cost of living, increase consumer purchasing power, address waste management, encourage national literacy, alleviate burdens of high energy costs, strengthen mental health programs and develop world-class athletes.
United Democrats of Sint Maarten
Political leader: Sarah Wescot-Williams
Number of candidates: 11
Manifesto main points: Expansion of Sint Maarten’s cruise facility, revamping of the current road network, restoration of the airport, stability (a review of the snap election), national healthcare, job creation, and tax reform.
UP Party St Maarten
Political leader: Rolando Brison
Number of candidates: 23
Manifesto main points: The UP Party in its manifesto intends to address various issues including, affordable housing, property rent control, poverty alleviation, the Mullet Bay inquiry, the environment, and LGBTQ relations.
Sint Maarten Christian Party
Political leader: Wycliffe E Smith
Number of candidates: 13
Manifesto main points: In its published manifesto the St Maarten Christian Party intends to review the school subsidy ordinance to accommodate universal education from early childhood to secondary education level, introduce pensioners' debit cards and reduce MPs salaries by 10 percent.
The party does not champion same sex-marriage, abortion (will adapt for exception cases), euthanasia, prostitution and the expansion of the casino industry.
The manifesto details plan for a less vulgar Carnival as well as support for the regulation of marijuana for medicinal use and scientific purposes.
United St Maarten Party
Political leader: Frans Richardson
Number of candidates: 19
Manifesto main points: In its reconstruction and roadmap for the country, the United St Maarten Party will engage in economic recovery, a job creation action plan, tax reform, a tourism master plan development, entrepreneur support and guidance through QREDITS, sustainable development as well as strengthen and support the marine industry.
People’s Progressive Alliance
Political Leader: Gracita Arrindell
Number of candidates: 15
Manifesto main points: The People’s Progressive Alliance intends to reduce the cost of living, create new better-paying jobs, stimulate homeownership, introduce laws that hold officials accountable as well as implement 21st century Education that works for St Maarten’s children.