On the right track

On the right track

A motion to introduce a screening process for Members of Parliament (MPs) in Curaçao (see Wednesday newspaper) failed to reach the floor for a vote. Submitted by Gwendell Mercelina of coalition party PNP, it was backed only by leader of the MAN opposition faction Giselle McWilliam while at least two endorsements are needed.

This is a complicated matter, because legislators are not the same as ministers. Contrary to the latter, they have no executive powers or access to community funds. They also represent the people, which is why traditionally few limitations are placed on participating in parliamentary elections.

In any case, a negative screening result after someone has already been elected is hardly a desirable scenario and – frankly – asking for trouble. A different option would be to screen all candidates vying for public office beforehand, but even that could be seen as stifling democracy.

One must keep in mind that historically social and sometimes controversial activists were often the voice of the populace at a time when aristocrats and bourgeoisie mostly ran government. The Islands Regulation of the former Netherlands Antilles ERNA, for example, contains little in the way of restrictions for occupying a legislative seat.

McWilliam’s alternative of a Code of Conduct for MPs seems a more feasible short-term approach. This can be used to address also important issues like secondary activities and preventing conflicts of interest.

As reported in last Tuesday’s edition, another motion calling for more transparency and accountability regarding MPs’ travel expenses was recently adopted unanimously in Curaçao, indicating that they are at least on the right track in that sense.


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