It’s official. Parties that lack current representation in Parliament must get the backing of 134 eligible voters to be on the January 11 ballot. According to the Nomination Day schedule this regards – in chronological order – Empire Culture Empowerment (ECE) Association, Nation Opportunity Wealth (NOW), Unified Resilient St. Maarten Movement (URSM) and the Democratic Party (DP).
They will have to do so on Thursday, November 23, one day after submitting their candidate lists, between 9:00am and 4:00pm at the Civil Registry, although it has occurred before that this was allowed to take several days due to unusual circumstances.
The process was also less democratic in the past because supporters of each party had to stand in a separate line for everybody to see. This later changed to a confidential type of pre-election.
Keep in mind that when someone endorses a list that does not mean they will ultimately vote for them at the actual poll. People may sympathise with a so-called “newcomer” party or certain candidate enough to help them participate, but prefer to try to elect others into public office.
Once on the ballot, close to 1,000 votes will probably be needed to earn a first seat outright, which is required to qualify for any possible residual seat. Considering that there are 15 seats and in total eight announced parties, all can in any case not end up with the same number.
Campaign season starts today, Wednesday, and residents can expect to be bombarded with political messages both in the media and on signage along the roads. Party for Progress (PFP) has already complained that frames for billboards were put up since Friday, November 17, against explicit instructions and guidelines communicated by authorities during a meeting earlier that week with representatives of all parties contesting the election.
And it’s not just the premature timing. Apparently some related materials were inside roundabouts, which is clearly not permitted even within 10 metres.
Also prohibited is placing them on street furniture including stop-lights, lampposts, etcetera, or in such a way that they impede and perhaps endanger traffic. The same goes for using someone’s private property without their consent.
Let’s please just stick to the rules.