~“We currently have a hostage situation in our government.”~
PHILIPSBURG:--- The meeting of the Democratic Party (DP), scheduled for November 12th is in essence a membership meeting, required according to the party’s constitution. The organizing committee saw it fit to also seize the opportunity to offer non-registered members and past members the opportunity to not only (re)register, but also to register their social and political interests. The meeting will also provide an update on the country’s current political affairs.
MP Wescot explained, “this part of the registration is important because an essential part of the DP’s return to its base is a year-round community and grassroots outreach.”
Too often, such things are put off until campaign time, when unfortunately they become entangled with the more opportunistic mentality, usually seen during election campaigns and no one knows for sure how genuine these efforts are.
MP Wescot minced no words in stating that one of the reasons we find ourselves today in a political hostage situation is the disconnect between parliamentary membership and that of parties. “If we want to address what everyone likes to call the instability in government, we should start here.
For me, electoral reform should be on the top of the agenda, but other than lip service, not many actually support the call for such, except when deemed expedient for themselves.
Stability is also very much about transparency and accountability, the MP added.
“The dilemmas facing political parties are not unique to St. Maarten. There have been many studies exploring the “politics” of political parties. But the consequences for St. Maarten have been disastrous and embarrassing so far, and have brought us to an all-time low, in my opinion.”
The present NA/UPP government (what is left of it) camouflages this hostage situation with a lot of propaganda and cumbersome policies, which they themselves do not apply. “But they look good on the books.”
Getting back to the DP meeting, the DP leader stated “I know it is a long shot, but we have to start somewhere and for me, that somewhere is at home, where the DP is at.
“The United Democratic Party(UD) back in 2017 was an attempt at unifying forces in the interest of the country, that unfortunately was short-lived, due to personal agendas of some in a position to hold the country hostage”, said MP Wescot, in a clear reference to the 2019 coalition breakup, caused by 2 wayward members of the UD, stealthily orchestrated by the current coalition partners.
Political parties must be able to articulate where they stand on issues of national interest and how they look at issues that affect the population at large.
MP Wescot further addressed the criticism that everyone should be able to form a new party, by explaining that, “measures to promote political stability should never be equated with stifling the blossoming of new parties, new ideas or the right to associate oneself with whomsoever.
“Political parties as units however should verbalize where and how they stand on issues that affect the population at large. If these positions are known, these parties, extra-parliamentary, in opposition or in government, can be held accountable by their membership and ultimately by the voters.”
We have political parties’ legislation, that has the party central, and we have the election law, that has the party central, and until we change that system, we have to ensure some type of stability through strengthening the parties and the voice of the membership therein.
“Chaos reigns in confusion and that’s what we have right now, a confusing political landscape”.
Explaining her scathing criticism of the current NA/UP coalition MP Wescot questions “where in the world would any political party get away with sacking one of its members from a prominent position with no account to the people?”
“Worse yet, the few times a coalition member spoke on the matter, it was even more alarming and damaging to the political fabric of the country. While the government is walking on eggshells, they muffle the press, snub parliament, even with their shaky majority, and the show goes on.”
Finally, it is from this premise, that I will address the need for a strong DP membership, a transparent party hierarchy, and general political education in the party’s membership meeting on Saturday, November 12th.