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Handling of draft law to expand voters postponed

07 MARCH 2017

PHILIPSBURG–St. Maarten students living aboard will have to wait a little longer to find out how Parliament feels about giving to them voting rights in Parliamentary Elections.
The draft law, proposed by Government, was slated for handing in the Central Committee of Parliament on Monday afternoon. Prime Minister/General Affairs Minister William Marlin, however, wrote to Parliament asking for a postponement of deliberations, because he wants to research if the stance of the Dutch Kingdom Government is needed for this change to the almost seven-year-old Constitution of St. Maarten.

The Kingdom Charter requires Dutch Government input for changes to certain parts of the Constitution that came into force when St. Maarten became a country within the Kingdom on October 10, 2010.

While granting the postponement request, Parliament Chairwoman Sarah Wescot-Williams said it was her belief that the Dutch Government did not need to be heard on this particular article change of the Constitution. Her stance stems from the Council of Advice not pointing out such a step had been missed or needed to be taken by Government.

The Constitution in Article 23 specifically gives the right to elect Members of Parliament to people with Dutch nationality residing on St. Maarten. The article states: “Every Dutch national residing in St. Maarten has an equal right to elect the members of general representative bodies and to be elected as a member of such bodies, subject to such exceptions as may be imposed under national ordinance.

Students living in the Netherlands, in particular, have been clamoring for the right to vote. Their fundamental belief is that they should have a voice in who governs the country they have ties to, as well as plan to move back to once their studies are completed.
The draft law, submitted to Parliament in September 2016, will be on Parliament’s meeting agenda at a later date.

Source: The Daily Herald, St. Maarten

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