The naming of United Resilient St. Maarten Movement (URSM) leader Luc Mercelina as “formateur” (see Monday newspaper) was not unexpected. His party had been designated the premiership in negotiations with prospective coalition partners the Democratic Party (DP), Party for Progress (PFP) and Nation Opportunity Wealth (NOW) soon after last month’s vote.
The report submitted by “informateurs” Nilda Arduin and Candia Joseph is to guide him, as well as the political manifestos of all four parties involved, each with two seats in Parliament. This gives the government being formed a minimal majority in the newly-elected 15-seat house that is to take office Saturday, February 10.
Even though the portfolios and functions in both the executive and legislative branches have thus already been divided, it will probably be some time before the next Council of Ministers is installed. Candidate ministers must first pass the usual screening, which can take a while.
In the meantime, the caretaker Jacobs II Cabinet must continue running the country’s day-to-day business without entering into new commitments. They will have to do so without majority parliamentary backing, obviously for as short a period as possible.
Among the incoming legislature’s most pressing deadlines is that of the Committee for Financial Supervision CFT, which wants an approved 2024 budget by the end of March. Although the current draft was prepared by the outgoing government, major changes by its successor will therefore be unlikely.
What should in any case not happen is surpassing the term set, because that may prompt undesirable actions from the Kingdom Council of Ministers RMR in The Hague. These could include so-called financial instructions or decrees containing general measures.
The future URSM/DP/PFP/NOW coalition would do well to complete the current budget process and present amendments based on its own policies later. Governing is also about timing and choosing your battles.