Interim-cabinet Curacao is constitutionally impossible

POSTED: 08/8/12 12:04 PM

Douwe Boersema: no-confidence motion is meaningless.

Curacao – The opposition parties in the parliament in Curacao want to form an interim-cabinet and send the Schotte-team packing. But an advisor to the government, Douwe Boersema says that the plan is constitutionally impossible.

PNP-leader Humphrey Davelaar’s motion of no confidence would have gotten a majority in the parliament yesterday, but the meeting did not go through. PAR-leader Emily de Jongh-Elhage said at a press conference on Monday to expect that the Schotte-government has to discontinue its work immediately after the vote on this motion. She expected Governor Frits Goedgedrag to consult with the factions to arrive at the establishment of a small interim-cabinet with just four ministers. PAR, FOL, PNP and independent MP Cleopa would provide one minister each.

In De Jongh-Elhage’s view the interim-cabinet would remain in office until November 2, the date when the current parliament will be dissolved to make space for the new parliament.

Douwe Boersema, an expert on constitutional law, told the Antilliaans Dagblad that the opposition’s plan is impossible: it cannot demand the dismissal of an outgoing cabinet and it cannot undo its own dissolution.

“First of all,” Boersema said, the Governor has no authority during the three months until the parliament’s actual dissolution to honor a request by members of the dissolved parliament to examine whether it is possible to form a new cabinet that can count on a majority. Such actions would fall under the responsibility of the current outgoing cabinet that would have to approve this.”

Boersema added that the parliament cannot undo its dissolution – not on its own and not in cooperation with the governor. “Dissolved parliaments cannot undo their dissolution and they cannot dissolve themselves either.”

The constitutional expert had more bad news for the opposition: a motion of no-confidence by a dissolved parliament is meaningless. “It is unthinkable that the members of the cabinet will resign based on such a motion. They do no longer control their function because the governor has taken their dismissal into consideration. This would also result in an administrative vacuum because the country would no longer have a proper government. That is obviously unthinkable. It is also not possible to solve that vacuum through the immediate formation of a new cabinet based on a different majority in the parliament. That is because the parliament – be it necessarily in the near future – has been dissolved.”

The only option the opposition has according to Boersema is to file motions of no confidence against individual ministers. “In an outgoing cabinet they still have ministerial responsibility for concrete actions in the context of the governor’s order to deal with current affairs.”

Boersema says that this could lead to a situation whereby a minister leaves office. “But I have to say, if the parliament passed motions of no confidence against every individual minister it can only be seen as a veiled attempt to use a motion of no confidence against the complete cabinet.”

Based on these considerations, Boersema said, the cabinet then ought to decide that the motions cannot be executed because of the national interest.

Boersema says that establishing a cabinet of experts is not a realistic option. In such a situation, he said, people who are not politicians and who do not know what is going on at the executive level would have to deal with current affairs.

The only remaining alternative would be setting up a cabinet of national unity – a measure countries mostly take when they are under threat of war. In such a situation all political differences are set aside. “But that option is not opportune,” Boersema said.

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