Opposition wants to deny equal rights to independent members of parliament

POSTED: 02/22/11 12:29 PM

Marlin: “Base support staff on proportional representation”

St. Maarten – Opposition leader William Marlin objects to allotting an equal number of support staff to all faction in the parliament. In a letter to Parliament President Gracita Arrindell, ahead of yesterday’s meeting of faction leaders in what the Dutch call the seniorenconvent.

Marlin proposed two things in yesterday afternoon’s meeting: to base the allotting of faction support staff on proportional representation, and to deny equal rights and privileges to independent members of parliament. “The more members in a faction, the more support staff is allotted.”

Marlin says that the number of support staff ought to be based on proportional division, based on the number of seats won during the last elections.

The current make up of the parliament is as follows: National Alliance 6, United people’s Party 6, Democratic Party 2, Faction Illidge 1.

Marlin wrote to Arrindell that “a clear distinction must be made between a faction and an independent member of parliament. The National Alliance believes that a faction in parliament is made up of persons elected from the respective political parties contesting the elections. In other words, the factions in the parliament of St. Maarten are the National Alliance, the UP and the Democratic Party.”

Marlin defines an independent member of parliament as “any member of any of the respective factions who for whatever reason has decided to resign from that faction.”

Patrick Illidge took part in last year’s September 17 elections as the number 7 on the National Alliance list of candidates. He won 593 votes, Making him the fifth highest vote getter in the elections and the number 3 in the National Alliance. But Illidge, who served as Minister of Traffic, Transportation, Telecommunication & Post in the last Antillean government, left the National Alliance to become an independent member of parliament after the UP formed a government with the DP.

NA-leader Marlin now says that “independent members of parliament cannot have the same rights and privileges as a faction; factions are only established as a result and consequence of the elections. Any independent member should either join an existing faction, or remain independent until the next elections.”

Marlin points out that “an independent member did not take part in the elections as a party and did not win any seats as such. If we would allow independent members the same rights and privileges as elected factions, this could have serious financial and organizational consequences for the functioning and operations of the parliament, The possibility would then exist for parliament to be made up of fifteen different factions, fifteen faction leaders and no less than 30 support staff.”

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