Not anytime soon

Not anytime soon

The decision to hold a survey on electoral reform (see Thursday paper) is interesting. Asking the people’s opinion on major issues apart from voting for local politicians should generally be considered a good thing, the main reason referenda have grown in popularity over the years.
However, there are some perimeters to keep in mind. For starters, the constitution allows a Council of Ministers that no longer enjoys majority parliamentary support and against which a motion of no-confidence has been adopted to dissolve the legislature and call early elections.
In addition, Members of Parliament (MPs) – even if not elected outright with personal votes – can go independent and keep their former party’s seat, then use it to help to form new coalitions and force changes in government. This is according to the “free mandate” principle in the Dutch kingdom, whereby the people’s representatives take an oath to act according to their own good conscience without fear of being side-lined.
St. Maarten also has the so-called “Lynch Law” that allocates seats earned by each party to its candidates based who are the highest vote-getters, while in the past their position on the list would determine such. This arguably led to less cohesion in parties and control by their leadership, as well as a more individualistic approach among those seeking public office.
The latter roadblock is probably the easiest to remove by going back to the old regulations. The former two would require approval at the kingdom level and the Netherlands has already indicated this not possible in the current democratic system, after seeking advice from the Council of State.
All this is in no way meant to discourage residents from giving their valued input, but – realistically speaking – don’t expect too much, at least not anytime soon.

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