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SXM's politics causes young people to be disinterested.

Dear Editor,

The months are fast approaching in the run-up to the General Election, and voters are now more than ever observing the political arena. While political aspirants step up their campaigning, there is a question for them to ask themselves: Will young people be eager to cast their votes in this election? We must examine the various issues that concern the younger generation and their perspectives on the political system if we are to comprehend the position of the young people. Youth grapple with the perception of politics being a family business, the negative stigma surrounding politicians/politics, the consistent instability of the government, and the underrepresentation of youth issues.

POLITICS A FAMILY BUSINESS

In Sint Maarten, it has become customary for people with specific surnames to dominate politics. This leaves us to conclude that politics in our beloved island has been a family affair. While much work is needed to change this type of set-up, the problem is worsened by their underperformance, as little to no work is typically done throughout their tenure to develop the country. Instead, they are primarily concerned with enhancing the reputation and financial standing of their family. They then pass the baton to their offspring or other close relatives after serving their terms in office, which causes the political system to stall. Why should we expect these politicians' close relatives to make the impact the nation is hoping for when it is not as though they have a stellar record of faithfully representing the people? Young people are aware of this failing trend and see it as selfish on the part of these surnames. Consequently, they are becoming more apathetic to participate in the electoral voting exercise.

NEGATIVE STIGMA SURROUNDING POLITICIANS/ POLITICS

Another issue that often deters young people from voting is the negative perceptions surrounding politicians and politics. Growing up, I always analysed the political system in all aspects; the reality is that many young people believe that the political system is corrupt, and they consider politicians to only act more in their personal interests than for the society. In many instances, we see and hear of many politicians being arrested and convicted of white-collar crimes, but it is very rare that any action is taken against them. The reputation of the profession has become so tainted that it is no longer a calling for the highest service to the nation, but rather the profession that will get you some extra funds by all means necessary. Why should we place our confidence in a system/profession that lacks proper morals and ethics?  

CONSISTENT FALL OF THE GOVERNMENT

The matter of ineffective governance in Sint Maarten is not only from a lack of poor ethics because the very structure of our political system helps to exacerbate the problem. Sections 1-3 of Article 59 speak to the dissolution and re-electing of Parliament, which is normal for any country; however, the constant abuse of this Article has led to frequent fallings of the Government, which forces people to the polls over and over. Consequently, elections are now held on average every two years or less, instead of every four years. This does not even include the constant shifts in the Government within those time frames.

Sint Maarteners are tired of going to the polls; it is like people should sleep with their ballots under their pillows because they never know when elections will be called. This has significantly affected voter turnouts over the last four elections (2014-2020), resulting in a 10% decline at the polls, with the last turnout being 59%, according to Overall Party Election Results, 2020. Additionally, the constitutional matter of jump shipping is a problem that needs to be resolved. Young people need a stable structure they can depend on that comprises mature and conscious-minded people whose only agenda is to represent our nation.

The fact is that young people, and the people of Sint Maarten, in general, are tired of the way things are being done as it relates to governance, and they are hoping for better. Nevertheless, is leaving things as they currently are going to fix the problem? Is waiting for a big surname to act right our only option? Is complaining in our little corners now making any difference? Is upholding the notion that the government is just full of selfish people who do not care about us changing anything?  Is it that all hope is lost in the system, and we should just not vote? These are pertinent questions that we have to ask ourselves.

The answer, however, is “NO”. Sint Maarten remains a democratic country, which means the people have the right to choose their leaders, and this should give us hope. We might have to vote three or four times in two years or take to the street to protest more, but we will never let Sint Maarten suffer.

The call is for this generation to make a difference by listening, watching, waiting to contribute, and doing what is right for the people, despite our reservations about how the system is. Let us still take the time to make our voices heard and provide feasible solutions for the betterment of our country. This is the only way things will ever change!

Kelron Bellot

Young Concerned Citizen


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