The withdrawal of his support by United Democrats (UD) faction leader Franklin Meyers (see related story) seems to have sealed the fate of the Romeo-Marlin Cabinet. It comes after the recent no-confidence motion initiated by also-UD parliamentarian Luc Mercelina against the party’s – then still – own Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labour Emil Lee and passed with the help of the National Alliance (NA)/United St. Maarten Party (US Party) opposition.
Lee was forced to resign, but it appears all his former colleagues as well as newly-sworn-in Minister of Public Housing, Spatial Planning, Environment and Infrastructure Chris Wever may soon have to follow suit. The real question is: what then?
A new government could be formed based on the existing seat division in the legislature, where UD has seven, NA five, US Party two and St. Maarten Christian Party one. A NA/US Party/SMCP coalition of eight is possible, although it would currently lack a majority due to the detention of US Party leader Frans Richardson.
While UD could also change partners and work with NA and/or US Party instead of SMCP, it’s a bit unclear what the position of its other elected representatives is regarding the surprise moves by first Mercelina and now Meyers. The continued suspension of UD leader Theo Heyliger only adds to the confusion.
One must also keep in mind that UD was a political marriage of convenience between the United People’s Party (UP Party) headed by Heyliger and the Democratic Party (DP) led by Parliament Chairwoman Sarah Wescot-Williams after Hurricane Irma. The two joined forces to oust the NA-led government which had been on a collision course with the Netherlands over conditions for much-needed recovery assistance.
They then teamed up on a single candidate list for the snap elections that were called as a result. However, the sending home of DP stalwart Lee created cracks in that bond and the latest developments indicate a split might be on the horizon, certainly if another early return to the polls is in order.
Precisely what the situation now created means for the country and its population remains to be seen, but important projects such as the new hospital and rebuilding the airport could very well be impacted, with all possible consequences.