Using our democratic right!

Today there will be elections in the country. In the last formation of government, the Ombudsman has advised on a wide coalition basis to be formed. This advice was not followed and we are now heading to the next election since we got a new constitutional status on 10-10-10.

Generally, it is unfortunately during the political elections too much about doing favors for family and friends. It is sad that there are still candidates who are on a list as “job seekers”. “I have to get a job out of this” is not thinking on a country level. The mindset should be transformed into “How do I use my skills for the country to move forward?” You can do this through various ways. The political arena may be one of the vehicles.

But, why would I actually vote in the first place?

Because it is my democratic right, I want to use with dignity. Voting is the act of citizenship per definition. Democracy is working with my voice. Voting protects my freedom in general and specifically my freedom of choosing officials. Casting my vote gives me the opportunity to choose the leaders I want to represent us; we would like to choose people who we trust, who view our ideas best.

There are many countries where people cannot choose who is pulling the strings. Fortunately, we have democracy in Sint Maarten.

Your vote makes no difference? My vote does not matter, is a common excuse not to vote. That is literally not making your voice heard. My individual vote might not be decisive, but in a democracy, it is the right to all those votes together. My vote carries to the total, bringing with it all those other votes to shape the future of the country. In this way my voice definitely makes a difference. The government plays a vital role in our daily life, with my voice I can influence that. Therefore, yes, my vote makes a difference.

No idea who you should vote for?

For such a small population and island like St. Maarten, there are many candidates, so lots of choices out there. All parties have good intentions and manage to bring their great ideas forward. You do not need to agree on every single detail of a party. You can make it clearer for yourself to choose. Begin with putting the parties aside which performed terribly. Or, those politicians who have been sitting enough in the seats of government in the past, but have achieved little of their promises. Consider which topics you find the most important and see which parties connect to these themes in your opinion. You can then easily compare the few remaining ones.

A “Voting Guide” would be able to help. So far, I did not see one in St. Maarten.

I believe that we really need to move towards installing a performance assessment of our members of parliament. What have they accomplished during their governing period? We should develop relevant performance indicators for this. Based on their presence in meetings, their experiences and their performance they should get their salaries.

In former elections, my substantive “content-driven campaign”, in an environment with few friends and no family in St. Maarten, did not result for me to become a member of parliament. However, I will definitely vote for the reasons I mentioned earlier.

With still too few women in leadership positions and in the political arena, there is no real balance in power. There are enough intelligent, energetic women out there, so there is hope for a better future.

We need those reliable, transparent, hard-working women at the forefront. Women need to claim their leading roles in government, NGOs [non-governmental organisations – Ed.] and the private sector, as they do so in their households.

I would furthermore opt for a constructive cooperation with our kingdom partners and with similar countries in the region. I believe that that is the way to go for our national development.

Finally, my advice to voters would be: Use your voting right. Let democracy work. Vote wise, look at content and actions, with a sustainable development of St. Maarten in mind, and give energetic, transparent women a chance.

 

Loekie Morales