As reported in the media, the perception that “amending the Constitution” is the only solution to stop “ship-jumping” and the further continuing demise of Government on St. Maarten (4 times in just about 5 years) is utterly absurd and uninformed.
Respectfully, Article 47.1 of the Constitution clearly defers such matters as the election and maintenance of Parliament, to be regulated by national ordinance. To this effect, the Election Ordinance (AB 2010, GT no.10) was ratified by the Government of St. Maarten December, 2010.
As such, to avert “ship-jumping,” the focus should be on amending the Election Ordinance which allows for (non-elected) Parliamentarians to indiscriminately break ties with their elected party list and align with another party list consequently causing Government to fall, which has become affectionately known as “ship-jumping.”
To avoid such continuing political anomaly, this citizen has written and submitted to the Parliament of St. Maarten a draft Election Ordinance Amendment Legislation (June 29, 2015). The objective of the Amendment Legislation is to “ensure the sanctity and rightful representation of the election results...where elected non-elected Members of Parliament (could) declare themselves as “independent, align with a different party list/ political party and render the premature fall of Government.” And yes, “new elections will not solve the “ship-jumping issue,” however, the aforementioned Election Ordinance Amendment Legislation reform will.
With respect to the constitutionality of new elections or that “calling for early elections is unconstitutional” as also reported in the media, while this might appear to be a gray area to my mind it is quite constitutional. As Article 33.1 of the Constitution clearly states, “the Prime Minster and the other Ministers shall be appointed and dismissed by National Decree.”
This is further reinforced by Article 59.2, which states that “An order for dissolution shall also require new elections to be held for Parliament, which has been dissolved and the newly elected Parliament to meet within three months.” The coming together, after the fall of government, of different parties and/or “independent” members of Parliament to form a new government, which was permissible under the Island Regulation of the Netherlands Antilles this is hardly consistent with ordinary norms of parliamentary government.
Julio R. Romney