Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs confirmed that Parliament will remain at 15 seats, meaning the total number of legal residents stayed below 60,000 when the voter registry for January’s elections closed. Surpassing that limit would have meant expanding to 17 seats according to the Constitution, making it easier to earn one.
As things stand and assuming a 70% turnout, about 22,200 eligible voters translates to a seat quota of just over 1,000 votes. That’s the least any political party on the ballot will need to get a person elected.
As known, the first seat must be earned outright to qualify for possible residual seats. This has resulted in a major threshold especially for aspiring newcomers over the years.
In addition, all parties not represented in the legislature at this time must prove they are backed by 1% of the latest valid vote during an endorsement process after Nomination Day. Having current members of parliament (MPs) either independent or for other parties on the candidate list makes no difference.
This would be required of no fewer than seven of the 12 parties registered with the Electoral Council. It regards Concordia Political Alliance (CPA), St. Maarten Christian Party (SMPC), Democratic Party (DP), Empire Cultural Empowerment (ECE), People’s Progressive Alliance (PPA), Nation Opportunity Wealth (NOW) and United Resilient St. Maarten Movement (URSM).
Keep in mind that several of these have given no indication of running, as is the case with United Democrats (UD). Guaranteed a spot on the ballot are National Alliance (NA), United People’s (UP) party, Party for Progress (PFP) and United St. Maarten Party (US Party).
The system favours established and larger parties to prevent political fragmentation. That’s no reason to be discouraged, because some newcomers have done relatively well in the recent past, capturing more than one seat on various occasions.
Like it or not, campaign season is fast approaching and there will be no escaping such during the next few months. That the period coincides with the Christmas holidays is hardly ideal, but unavoidable at this point.
Perhaps that circumstance can even serve as inspiration to those vying for public office to keep their message at a level appropriate for this time of year.