Opinion: Governing program (Are we going to get the change we voted for?)

POSTED: 09/3/14 4:19 PM

Now that the dust has settled, the votes have been counted and the jobs have been divided the electorate will be scratching its collective heads and wonder: where to now? Are we going to get the change we voted for? Are we getting what we voted for period?

That is of course the 64,000 dollar question. The electorate gave the United People’s party lots of votes, more than any other party, but it was not enough for the absolute majority party leader Theo Heyliger was after.

Numbers can be deceptive. If there were 14,451 valid votes – as the tally stands now – and 6,157 of them voted for the UP, it means that 8,294 did not vote for the green party. So who is the real winner of these elections? Has a part of the electorate shown sufficient aversion to the powerful UP to justify the coup of the three coalition partners that sidelined Heyliger and his comrades?

NA, DP and USp surely have saved the process a lot of time; they have made the consultations with the governor a mere formality. The political reality is not for the governor to contest – nor will he.

Still, one could wonder – once more – why political parties do not have the decency to follow this formal line, whereby the largest party gets the first opportunity to form a new government. Heyliger earned that right, but his political opponents did not give it to him.

Given the speed with which the three parties reached an agreement, negotiating with the UP would have been pointless anyway. So holding their horses and waiting for the governor to do his thing would not have been skin off anybody’s nose. Right?

Now we have the blue print of a new government. There will be a new prime minister from the ranks of the National Alliance; the ministries have been divided up following a predictable 3-2-2- formula. The USp ended up with two heavy ministries – Economic Affairs and Finance –a tall order for a new party. The options were of course limited, because it was a forgone conclusion that the NA would claim Vromi and Education and that the DP would hang on to Public Health.

More interesting for the electorate than this governing accord is the governing program. This will be ready no later than October 31 – at least that’s what it says in the governing declaration.

This is something that has to change. It is odd, to put it mildly, that a new government is going to take office, while it has not decided about its governing program for the next four years. It’s a bit like booking a vacation without having any idea where you want to go.

In our opinion, the new government ought to write its governing program before taking office. What if they do not manage to agree on its content? Will the new government then fall before it even began its work? This does not make a lot of sense.

Furthermore, in the past these governing programs were hardly ever ready at the promised date. That could mean different things. For instance, the members of the government are already fighting like cats and dogs because they strongly disagree about certain components of the program. It could also mean that the new government does not give a rat’s behind about such a program and that the voters will have to put up for the next four years with whatever pleases the ministers.

There still is more than a month to go before the new parliament takes office. Is it really too much to ask for a governing program before the new government takes office as well? Come on now, St. Maarten deserves better.


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