Best of the worst

Best of the worst

Wednesday’s elections in Bonaire again raised the issue of a “winner” possibly “losing” in the end. “Partido Demokratiko Boneriano” (PDB) became the biggest party but is likely to be kept out of government by the current coalition of “Union Patriotiko Boneriano” (UPB) and “Movementu di Pueblo Boneriano” (MPB).

What adds to the concern is that PDB got 4,004 and UPB 2,902 votes, yet both seemed set to earn three Island Council seats. The latter has to do with the residual seat division system, but it’s still a difference of more than 1,000.

Some argue that this kind of probable political outcome does not sufficiently reflect the result at the polls, also considering that MPB dropped from four to two seats. Nevertheless, it remains inherent to the Kingdom of the Netherlands’ parliamentary democracy in which the majority rules and coalition forming is not only prevalent but often necessary.

St. Maarten is no stranger to this phenomenon. Readers will remember local parties signing documents and taking photos already the same night together to confirm their governing partnership while all the votes were hardly counted.

While the biggest party was not always part of such combinations, that is part of the game. Many say an absolute majority or full mandate would allow one winner to run the country effectively based on its own announced plans because there is less of a need to compromise, but having more parties involved means they may at least keep each other in check.

There are rarely official pre-election accords also referred to as “forming blocs” or “stembusakkoord” in Dutch, but some contact usually takes place behind the scenes before, during, as well as after the campaign. This “wheeling and dealing” although often frowned upon is a legitimate part of political reality.

It’s certainly not an ideal situation and can lead to confusion among the electorate. However, the same could be said for allowing elected representatives to leave the party and keep their seat, “jump ship” and even help form new coalitions, as well as for governments that lose majority backing being able to dissolve the legislature and call snap elections.

Winston Churchill has been quoted as saying “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.”

The Daily Herald

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