St. Maarten PM next week in parliament about electoral reformPOSTED: 02/4/14 12:39 PM
St. Maarten – Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams confirmed that she has been invited to parliament to elucidate on her work towards electoral reform, on February 11 or 12. “One of the matters that will surely be discussed during those days will be electoral and campaign reform. I will be addressing specifically the motion of Parliament as well as the items that are already regulated in the law,” the Prime Minister said in a press statement.
Wescot-Williams emphasized the legal consequences for political parties, individual candidates and voters if rules regarding campaigning and elections are not followed closely: “There has been a lot of talk lately regarding vote buying and people need to know that this is punishable by law. People need to know that these laws do exist and that there are legal consequences attached to them. There is a need to inform candidates on political slates on what their responsibilities are. There needs to be a whole new thinking in place because of the new laws that exists since 10-10-10; the kind of looseness between parties and candidates should be something of the past. Persons contemplating to run on a list should be aware of these requirements and responsibilities.”
The Prime Minister said that within the Democratic Party and within her political responsibilities she will be putting a high priority on informing candidates and the electorate what can and should be expected from them: “While I preach that we should be informing the people it has always been my opinion that we should all practice what we preach. I am preparing the candidates that will be running with the Democratic Party so that they can have a clear understanding and overview of how this process takes place. There have been too many allegations that are very serious which came out of the last campaign where people do not consider what their vote should mean in electing the right representative for the right reasons.”
Wescot-Williams added that everyone has a responsibility “to turn things in the right direction” and that all political parties need to be prepared so that candidates are well groomed and comfortable postulating themselves. “It is important to remember that we are electing representatives on behalf of the people and I think an important word in this context would be coercion or force. To give someone something in order to coerce that person to vote a certain way is not allowed by law. Candidates need to draw the line between marketing themselves and their political party and should ask themselves the question as to where the limit is and where the breach in the law comes up. St. Maarten is not a banana republic; it is not a wild west and there are rules that govern the country and the electoral process.”