The first unanimous election of a Parliament President (see Monday newspaper) can be seen as recognition for the long-time public service and experience of Sarah Wescot-Williams. She is the only member left who has been part of the legislature since its establishment on October 10, 2010, along with autonomous country status within the Dutch kingdom for St. Maarten, and before that the Island Council.
With the Democratic Party (DP) leader as chair, Nation Opportunity Wealth (NOW) leader Christophe Emmanuel as first vice chair and Party for Progress (PFP) leader Melissa Gumbs second vice chair, three of the four incoming coalition party leaders apparently intend to stay in Parliament rather than join the next Council of Ministers.
Although this could conceivably still change, early indications are thus that “formateur” and likely future prime minister Luc Mercelina of United Resilient St. Maarten Movement (URSM) will be the only political leader in his cabinet. Moreover, he may well prove to be the sole current elected representative to become a minister.
Not everyone understands the latter, but it has to do with the dualistic system of government that entered into force per 10-10-10, with strict separation of power between the legislative and executive branches, while in the old days half the commissioners also needed to be in the Island Council. This change seems to have led to fewer Members of Parliament (MPs) showing a desire to become minister.
For one thing, the legislative seat offers more security, as ministers and entire cabinets can be sent home in case of a political crisis. In fact, several – including party leaders and top vote-getters – have already been left “outside looking in” this way.
Also unusual are the two biggest parties being left out of government and a coalition with four parties with two seats each. How all these “firsts” work in practice remains to be seen, but it is certainly an interesting prospect.
Last Friday’s editorial inadvertently mentioned URSM leader Luc Mercelina among first-time MPs, while he already had served in that capacity on behalf of the United People’s (UP) party. The author apologises for this mental slip.