Opinion: Political crash

POSTED: 03/20/12 3:10 PM

Louis-Constant Fleming led his Union for Progress to a clear victory in the 2007 elections for the Territorial Council of the Collectivité de Saint Martin. With 40.35 percent of the vote in the first round, and 48.96 percent in the second round, Fleming’s political career was soaring.
On Sunday he crashed and it does not look like Fleming will be able to repair the damages by this Sunday when voters go to the ballot for the second round.
Most of the 2, 829 voters that supported Fleming in 2007 have put their trust in other politicians, like Alain Richardson and Daniel Gibbs. When the smoke cleared on Sunday evening, the once powerful politicians had just 1, 195 voters left – a dramatic decrease of 57.8 percent.
Alain Richardson’s RRR (Rassemblement, Responsabilité, Réussite – Rally, Responsibility, Success) fared well: from 2, 237 votes in 2007 the party now got the confidence of 840 voters more for a total of 3, 077 – just enough to snatch victory in the first round from Daniel Gibbs who gathered 2, 895 votes.
This is where the voters who lost their confidence in Fleming went en masse. Fleming has “accepted” the election result – though there is not much else to do in a democracy of course.
The question now is what will happen in the second round. Will Fleming still manage to keep his influence by cutting a deal with one of the two front runners? The voters have clearly given Fleming his marching orders, but the same thing happened during the 2010 elections in St. Maarten with the Democratic Party – and look who is now part of the government.
It all depends on how much the first round winners want to shape the future. If they really want change, they will have to work together – based on the results we have, practically as equal partners. In general politicians do not find such an option attractive. In order to become the man of the manor, the winner would probably prefer to deal with a junior partner based on the UP-DP model on the Dutch side.
If Richardson stays ahead on Sunday he still has not won anything, because Fleming will still hold the keys to the castle. Of course, this only becomes an issue if Richardson and Daniel Gibbs are unable or unwilling to join forces.
But the lesson the National Alliance learned the hard way in 2010 is one that will not have escaped anybody’s attention. It is quite possible to win the elections and to subsequently lose the formation of a new government.
While the numbers are impressive and while there is a real opportunity to send the old generation on its way, there is no guarantee that this is what will happen.

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