Opinion: Mission Impossible (can UP party get the majority of votes?)

POSTED: 07/11/14 12:38 AM

The United People’s party has made one thing clear: it is done with coalition governments. The question that remains of course is whether coalition governments are done with the UP. Let’s run the numbers and see where we end up.

The National Alliance won the elections in 2010 handily with 6,298 votes, ahead of Heyliger’s UP (4,943) and the decimated DP (2,339). In spite of the big difference in votes, the NA won 7 seats, the UP 6 and the DP 2.

If there are 21,000 eligible voters this time and voter turnout is similar to 2010 (70 percent), there will be  – give or take – 14,700 votes to win, which means that a party needs (14,700:15) 980 votes to win a seat. For an outright majority of 8 seats, as the UP envisions, the party would have to win (980*8) 7,840 votes – or a bit less, if the eighth seat is a residual one. Winning seven seats outright requires 6,860 votes –8.9 percent more than the NA-result in 2010.

UP-leader Theo Heyliger was good for 2,967 votes in 2010, but the performance of the rest of his list was moderate to weak. Only Gracita Arrindell (336) and Sylvia Olivacce-Meyers (253 votes) made a small dent. No other candidate won more than 200 votes. Olivacce-Meyers won’t seek office again, as she has become the UP-President while her brother Franklyn is the number 3 on the list.

The total for the party will have to improve from just under 5,000 to something in the neighborhood of those 7,840 votes – a huge jump of 58.6 percent.

How is the UP going to do that? The party acquired Dr. Lloyd Richardson from the National Alliance; in 2010 he was good for 478 votes. That will help of course, but it brings the UP nowhere near its target. The candidates that are now on the list among the top-15 that also participated in 2010 (Gracita Arrindell, Johan Leonard, Jules James and Rhoda Arrindell) won just 721 votes between them. Will they dramatically improve based on their performance during the past four years? That remains to be seen – and we honestly doubt it.

The National Alliance seems to go to battle seriously weakened. With the departure of Frans Richardson, Patrick Illidge and Lloyd Richardson, the party saw 1,765 votes go up in smoke. That would bring Marlin’s tally for 2010 down to around 4,500. To repeat its impressive 2010-score, the NA will have to present another set of strong candidates. Overall though, the 2010 NA-list performed strong. After its main vote getters William Marlin and Frans Richardson, the party had six candidates that pulled in more than 300 votes and another five that won more than 100 votes.

It is fair to say that in 2010, the National Alliance-candidates did better than most candidates of the other parties.

If the National Alliance would indeed drop to around 4,500 this time around, it would leave 10,200 votes up for grabs for other parties. Will the UP be able to grab between 75 and 80 percent of that number? We don’t know obviously, but it seems quite a challenge.

In all this plays the question how the restyled Democratic Party will appeal to the electorate with its You Can’t Buy My Vote Campaign and with a fresh candidate like Emil Lee on the list. Party leader and Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams has remained the steady factor in all cabinets since 10-10-10 and, unlike in the run-up to the 2010 elections, her party has not been haunted by scandals.

Also, the party’s faction made some moves in the parliament that could appeal to voters, like the motion to cut the travel budget for parliament by 50 percent and the proposal to cut salaries for Members of Parliament. The latter proposal failed – no other MP wanted to sign that motion – but still, it is a signal that could just give the DP the credibility it needs to get back on its feet.

Then there are of course the newcomers: Frans Richardson’s United Sint Maarten People party – maybe good for one seat – Lenny Priest’s One St. Maarten People Party, Rueben Thompson’s Citizens for Positive Change and Jacinto Mock’s Social Reform Party.

Newcomers traditionally have a tough time to break into the system. However, like Brazil thought it had a chance against Germany, these newcomers could surprise the political establishment with a strong showing. We have absolutely no idea how many voters these parties will attract.

Jeffrey Richardson’s Concordia Political Alliance returns for a second run, looking to approve on the disappointing result of 2010 when just 128 voters backed the party.

So here we are: the 2010 UP-result plus Dr. Lloyd Richardson’s result would give the party around 5,420 votes. The National Alliance could go down to around 4,500 and maybe the DP could improve to around, say, 2,800. Total: 12,720. That leaves 1,980 votes for the newcomers and the CPA.

Of course, all these numbers are the result of gazing into a crystal ball.  Still, we are tempted to associate the absolute majority the UP is after with that 1996 Tom Cruise-movie. What was its name again? Oh yeah, Mission Impossible – but then with a different ending.

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