More than words

More than words

St. Maarten opened its 13th parliamentary year on the second Tuesday of September as customary (see related story), although the first one in 2010 started October 10 when autonomous country status within the Dutch kingdom went into effect. The past 12 years have not been without challenges regarding “the People’s House” and its members, at least half a dozen of whom were since indicted for improprieties and some were convicted.
Several also “declared themselves independent” and regularly “jumped ship” to help break ruling coalitions and form new ones for often seemingly opportunistic reasons. Others went “list shopping” to try and get into office, switching political parties like underwear.
The dualistic system based on a clear separation of powers also took getting accustomed to, because half the commissioners of the former Executive Council in fact had to be in the Island Council as well for practical reasons. This change and Parliament seats going to the party’s biggest vote-getters rather than according to positions on candidate lists – as it used to be in the old days – did not make things any easier for the local political leadership.
All this contributed to a lack of stability in government and elections just about every two instead of four years. The current Jacobs II Cabinet that took office in early 2020 is thus the longest-serving one so far.
In addition to debating issues, controlling the Council of Ministers and handling its law proposals, elected representatives can also initiate their own draft bills and amendments, which happens far too little. The mostly heard argument is lack of legislative experts that the executive branch does have at its disposal.
However, looking at the assistants each faction is afforded, such relevant knowledge does not appear to have been given much priority. Instead of appointing party colleagues and/or supporters, relatives, friends, etc., why not a scholar or law student, for example?
It’s high time members of parliament (MPs) start producing more than words and improve their legislative output.

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