Nation-building at the heart of Democratic Party’s Manifesto

Nation-building at the heart of  Democratic Party’s Manifesto

Democratic Party said nation-building is the “Red Thread” through its manifesto.

PHILIPSBURG--The Democratic Party (DP) is resolute in its commitment to nation-building, a core pillar of its manifesto that intertwines government, community and families. The DP firmly believes that a country’s foreign policy should be intricately linked with its national development, emphasising the importance of regional and global alliances in reinforcing St. Maarten’s development.

After a hiatus, the DP has re-entered the political arena, reactivating its membership and welcoming new members. With an eye on the 2024 elections, the party has initiated GenNex, a platform focusing on the active participation of youth in the democratic process, highlighting the role of women and leadership. It places particular emphasis on engaging in democratic dialogue, with the 2012 National Development Plan serving as a testament to its commitment to community-up approaches and strong neighbourhoods.

In a bid to shape a brighter future for St. Maarten, the DP unveils a comprehensive and actionable political agenda. From governance and education to alternative energy and infrastructure, the priorities outlined by the party reflect a commitment to sustainable development and a flourishing society.

Governance priorities

The party places a strong emphasis on transparent and effective governance. Key priorities include finalising regulations for public contracting rules, giving English the status of the First Official Language, and introducing more-flexible working hours for civil servants. Financial disclosure before assuming office, rearranging ministries and implementing electoral reform are also highlighted.

Kingdom relations

Recognising the importance of inclusive and democratic governance in the kingdom, the DP advocates for a kingdom conference aiming to address democratic deficits, the right to sustainable development, reparations, and debt positions. Charter reform is proposed to eliminate democratic deficits and promote self-governance, including the right to development and self-determination in regional affairs.


Strengthening awareness and pride in being a St. Maartener, revitalising culture, upgrading John Larmonie Center and finalizing plans for a national centre for the performing arts underscore DP’s commitment to nation-building.

To foster a sense of national identity, the party proposes a National Development Plan and the promotion of St. Maarten’s culture as a common objective. The NPower platform is envisioned to become a crucial non-governmental and non-profit platform for nation-building efforts.

Education priorities

Education takes centre stage in the DP’s agenda. Priorities include early childhood education, extended school hours with sports and arts programmes, and the recognition of University of St.

Martin (USM) as a national institution of higher learning. The party emphasises the integration of education and employment in the human development plan, along with support for students abroad and the establishment of educational safety nets.

Recognising the vital role of human resource development, it emphasises education as a key driver for socio-economic growth. The party envisions creating national and social environments that foster life-long learning opportunities for the people of St. Maarten.

It is the party’s belief that “all our citizens have the ability to continually learn, both for professional development as well as personal enrichment.”

This belief has led to successive DP governments over the years fully supporting the development of a flexible and adaptable education system. “The education offered in our institutions should prepare students to participate fully in and benefit from all opportunities available on the island for entrepreneurship as well as employment,” said DP, which is adamant that St. Maarten can become a knowledgeable society. “With the many technological solutions to bridge distances, this goal is a realistic one.”

Neighbourhood development

The DP puts the emphasis on communities. It is its belief that bottom-up empowerment is crucial to the development of the country.

An integrated neighbourhood development policy, as initiated by the DP, will continue to be an important part of its social agenda. This approach requires strong and vibrant community councils, which it will continue to support and encourage.

Sustainable development calls for joint approaches. The DP therefore believes in partnership with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and corporate St. Maarten. It was the driving force behind the establishment and subsidising of the St. Maarten Development Fund Foundation to ensure continuity in the services provided by NGOs to the vulnerable groups that are served through these entities.

Focus on family and parenting is the cornerstone of community development. The emphasis lies on support for the family, as the caregivers of the leaders of tomorrow. Efforts geared towards the youth must be combined and synchronised, so that no one falls behind.

The DP remains committed to the implementation of the victim support unit, the central reporting centre for child abuse and the youth rehabilitation facility. These are all initiatives that were started under the DP’s leadership. The Community Help Desk programme will continue.

Housing priorities

Prioritising diverse housing needs, the party focuses on first-time homeowners, young adults, social housing and housing for the elderly. Public-private partnerships for upgrading existing land-lease projects and the creation of small settlements of affordable homes are central to its housing agenda.

In collaboration with the government, the DP envisions a cooperative approach to enhance St. Maarten Housing Foundation’s offering of different home categories. The acquisition of land is deemed essential for expanding the housing supply. The DP advocates for small settlements of affordable homes, providing incentives for tax breaks in a revamped tax system.


Improving district liveability is also on the agenda, addressing cleanliness, proper infrastructure, drainage, sewerage and promoting small business development in districts.

The DP believes infrastructure investments should be geared towards updating the road network plan, zoning, road repairs and infrastructure that prioritises health and wellness, such as

biking, walking and hiking. Specific attention is given to the Simpson Bay strip and the airport corridor to Marigot.

Environmental stewardship

Addressing the urgency of environmental challenges, the Democratic Party outlines priorities such as tax incentives for alternative energy usage, solar-powered street lighting and environmental curricula. The party advocates for penalties for environmental violations, grid-level storage of solar and wind energy, and improved recycling and waste management systems.

The DP endorses the National Energy Policy of St. Maarten, emphasising the need for collective commitment from all stakeholders, including government, utilities company GEBE, and society at large. To achieve the policy’s goals, the party advocates for a legislative framework, a well-defined timeline, and educational awareness as part of the implementation plan. The DP sees this policy as not only essential for sustainable energy but also as a source of new business opportunities.

The DP sets ambitious goals for renewable energy. A short-term target of 35% renewable energy by 2025 and a long-term goal of 80% by 2028, aiming for 100% oil-free by 2032, are outlined. An execution plan for the National Energy policy, educational programmes and broad-scale recycling projects complement these objectives.

Economic development

Stimulating economic growth is a priority, with a focus on sports, medical and cultural tourism, e-zoning, e-commerce and e-medicine. Small and medium business support, tax incentives for job creation and a shift towards a knowledge society are integral to the DP’s economic vision.

The party emphasises flexibility in the labour market, adaptation of dismissal laws, effective control on compliance, and improved unemployment benefits. Transparent and efficient foreign labour policies, differentiated foreign labour permit systems and higher fees for expatriate labour are key labour priorities.

The DP believes in stimulating small/medium business and supports granting tax incentives that contribute to job creation. Its economic vision is one of enabling economic growth and private initiative that benefit not only entrepreneurs but also the workforce. The other aspect of that economic vision is one of building a knowledge society and a skilled work force, which can only be achieved if educational possibilities for advancement are widely available.

“Our focus must be on giving all able individuals the opportunity to work or be entrepreneurs, under the motto of ‘Getting people back to work’.”

The party’s economic strategy is one of manageable growth, with an emphasis on ensuring maximum social and economic benefits and minimum economic leakage and environmental degradation. The tax system must be revised to facilitate and stimulate such endeavours.

Tax reform

Tax reform is a key focus, with an emphasis on current taxes and fees. The party advocates for simplification of the tax system, indirect taxation, and small reforms in income and wage taxes. Taxes are proposed to act as deterrents and stimulators in various areas.

A simpler, more harmonious tax system supported by an improved tax organisation can, in the party’s opinion, improve compliance and yield more income for government, thus eliminating the annual search for new and untested taxes and fees.

“At this point we believe that the focus should be on current taxes and fees, and a stop should be put to chasing uncollectibles.” DP said.

The party prefers indirect taxation. “The TOT, however, in its current form is harmful to

business and costly for the consumer,” DP said. “If we abolish the TOT and impose a type of VAT [value added tax – Ed.], we can eliminate the profit tax, lower the wage tax, and exclude certain products and services from tax levies.”

Healthcare initiatives

Aiming for cost-effective and preventive healthcare, the DP advocates for introduction of the National Health Insurance (NHI) in phases, making it a manageable process. Its vision is that by 2026, most services for which residents must now travel abroad must be available on the island, which will also allow the medical facility to offer these services to the residents of neighbouring islands. “We must utilise e-health options for specialised care,” concluded DP, with its main focus on cost-effectiveness, prevention programmes and health education. Priorities include childhood nutrition and exercise, affordable healthy eating, sin taxes, and cooperation between the Dutch and French sides of the island.

Sports and culture

The National Sport Institute is at the mercy of government finances and therefore falls short of meeting its goals. “If we are serious about elevating sports, much more needs to be done. With a good programme, the business sector can buy into the programme and together we can elevate sports.”

It has always been the DP’s policy, as part of its nation-building efforts through culture, to strengthen awareness of and pride in being a St. Maartener. “Culture as a unifying factor represents our identity

as a people and represents the foundation upon which the DP is building our St. Maarten Nation.

“The (re)vitalisation of our culture has also been visible in areas such as the literary arts, dance, theatre, music. In fact, our culture is constantly being transformed as ‘old meets new’. The DP will encourage this revitalisation through the promotion and support of the development of performance, visual, literary, and creative arts, from recreational to competitive, on St. Maarten using the schools, community centres and NGOs in the districts as springboards.

“In this light the DP will pursue the upgrading and completion of John Larmonie Center as envisaged originally, as we finalise the plans for a national centre for the performing arts.”

Safety and security

Addressing safety concerns, the DP advocates for alternative punishments for imprisonment, foster care, youth facilities and measures to tackle drug-related issues and gambling addiction. Medicinal use of marijuana is also considered.

“For every resident and visitor to St. Maarten, a feeling of security and safety is vital,” DP said. “In fact, it is critical to our very economic survivability. The issue of safety and security remains a concern for the DP and we are committed to improving the internal security of the nation.”

International cooperation

Acknowledging the significance of its current political status, the DP emphasises the need to enhance St. Maarten’s image in the Dutch Kingdom and beyond. The party places great importance on cooperation in the wider Caribbean region, having intensified engagements through membership in various regional organisations. These engagements not only strengthen regional relations but also enhance St. Maarten’s participation in crucial developmental issues.

Strategic cooperation with the European Union remains a priority, as St. Maarten’s participation as one of the European Union’s overseas countries and territories (OCTs) opens avenues for EU funding. The European Development Fund (EDF) has played a substantial role in

supporting St. Maarten’s economic, social, and human development.

Holistic approach

As the Democratic Party charts its course amid changed landscapes, transparency, education and sustainable development stand out as pivotal elements in its vision for St. Maarten's future. The manifesto reflects a holistic approach, aiming to build a stronger nation for the benefit of all its citizens.

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