The paper they are written on

The paper they are written on

Member of Parliament (MP)-elect Christophe Emanuel has clarified why he did not sign a coalition agreement between his National Alliance (NA) and the United People’s (UP) party (see related story). He would have preferred to join forces with United St. Maarten Party (US Party) out of loyalty but expressed willingness to work with UP’s four MPs-elect if needed.

However, before putting his signature under the agreement Emanuel wants the nine elected representatives who already did so to also sign a document pledging not to throw down government during the next four-year legislative term that starts on February 10. Whether that will take place remains to be seen, because NA leader Silveria Jacobs said they had not heard from Emmanuel since he walked away from the governing accord and this condition was never mentioned.

UP leader Rolando Brison stated that they would await the position of new coalition partner NA. He did suggest plans to include similar commitments in the government programme that would seem to make Emmanuel’s demand “a bit redundant.”

More importantly, declarations to that extent have zero legal value. The Constitution and other laws of the land simply supersede any contract or agreement.

This means there are no sanctions to prevent MPs who sign such a document from “jumping ship” anyway to help create a cabinet crisis. Other than saying “you didn’t

keep your word” there is really nothing that could be done to punish those involved.

The political system within the Dutch Kingdom is based on the “free mandate” principle in which elected representatives take an oath to act in good conscience. This means the party cannot force dissidents to vote a certain way or give up their seat in case of a conflict, allowing them to become an “independent parliamentarian” and support whomever they please.

The entire current discussion is therefore quite superfluous. Unless the applicable legislation is changed, these kinds of promises won’t be worth the paper they are written on.