DP leader Sarah Wescot-Williams at the regeneration membership meeting on Sunday evening.
CAY HILL--Member of Parliament (MP) Sarah Wescot-Williams, in her capacity as Democratic Party (DP) leader, gave an insight into some of the party’s concerns and its priorities for the short and medium term during its regeneration membership meeting held at Paradise Hall in Cay Hill on Sunday evening.
The priorities were encompassed in a short video presentation, however, in remarks at the event the DP leader delved into several of the topics presented. The MP was emphatic about the issue of our constitutional status within the Dutch Kingdom and in her view the Kingdom Charter needs to be amended post-haste. The MP is said to be strengthened in her position by motions passed to this effect in the Dutch Parliament’s First and Second Chambers.
“All countries keep mentioning these motions, but the ball is being bounced around between the governments and the parliaments of the countries. If we are serious about wanting to continue together in the Dutch Kingdom, this process of amending the Charter needs to start now. There are some blatant parts in the Kingdom Charter, which with one’s eyes closed, you can see they are in conflict with the premise and the spirit of the Charter,” the MP commented.
“Those are, for example, the role of the King in the governing of the countries, presented by the governors in the Caribbean. The Charter makes no bones about that; the monarch is the head of all four governments in the Kingdom. What we see is that while the Netherlands has moved away from some of the roles afforded to the monarch, such as appointing a “formateur,” this has remained with the governors of the Caribbean countries, leading to the governors’ role in the screening of ministers, etc. in these countries. Same can be said for the governor as co-signatory to a decree to dissolve Parliament. Again, you see where in the Netherlands, a potential dissolution of Parliament is debated in the Second Chamber.”
She said in the same context, the governor also presents the annual government’s vision during the opening of each parliamentary year and although the monarch does the same, it is much more of a Kingdom synopsis on the basis of the budget of the Netherlands.
“It is time for a true representative head of government for the Caribbean countries. Although I say this with some trepidation, due to our porous election system and resulting instability, with electoral reform high on DP’s priority list, I am a little more confident that charter reform should come.”
In addition to the part of the monarchy’s role, what needs to be addressed is the so-called “guarantee” function of the Kingdom government in the Charter. “This is a big bone of contention when it comes to instructions to the country’s government and/or governor, continued the MP. And then we have the debacle of consensus kingdom laws, where the
democratic deficit comes in to play.”
In the MP’s view, the focus of the charter’s renewal should be on ‘de jure’ self-government of the countries; elimination of ambiguities and amplification of the three main Kingdom domains of nationality, foreign relations, and defence. These three (Dutch) ministers should also be accountable to all parliaments. And finally, give the other countries the right Aruba has in the charter, namely an exit clause out of the Dutch Kingdom but only based on the people’s decision to do so.”
The MP’s outline was given under the party’s key item Democracy. Other focal points presented by the DP leader on Sunday during the party’s regeneration and growth congress were health, life-long education, economic development, national community, social reconstruction, environmental recovery, taxes, labour/immigration, agriculture and fisheries.
“While some main topics of the other themes were presented during Sunday’s Congress, the party will form small groups to further work out the party’s various positions,” the DP leader said in a press release on Wednesday.