THE HAGUE – The agenda topic democratic deficit resulted in a somewhat emotional debate during the Inter-Parliamentary Consultation of the Kingdom IPKO in Curaçao on Wednesday, with some members of the St. Maarten delegation making clear that the Kingdom in its current format does not function.
Delegations of the Parliaments of Aruba, Curaçao, St. Maarten and the Netherlands all agreed that there is a democratic deficit, the commonly experienced imbalance within the Kingdom whereby the Netherlands as the biggest country has the power of control.
What not everyone in the delegations agreed on was the manner in which this should be solved. “This is my fourth IPKO, and we are still discussing the same things over and over. Let’s come up with a new, modern Kingdom Charter that works for everyone. If we can’t come to a consensus, then break the Charter. Be honest and truthful to say that it is not working,” said St. Maarten independent Member of Parliament (MP) Grisha Heyliger-Marten.
“Let’s have a discussion on whether we really want to change the Kingdom Charter, yes or no. Why not for once and for all have an IPKO that takes decisions that will fight for the true autonomy of the Caribbean countries? We need to decide: go for full equality or continue with this status of equivalence? Let’s stop dancing around the issues. I’m tired of it,” said Heyliger-Marten.
“We have a problem in the Kingdom,” said independent St. Maarten MP Christophe Emmanuel. “My objective is not trying to make it work, because it is not working. I don’t want to be part of the Kingdom because it is not working. I want the next IPKO to be about getting out, not getting more in. The next discussion should be independence,” he said.
St. Maarten MP George Pantophlet of the National Alliance said that Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten, “constitutional states, not countries,” are suffering. “It is not going to work. We are talking around the same things every time and we are not getting anywhere. Let’s be really serious now. See what’s in the Charter that is not working and try to come to some sort of solution,” said Pantophlet.
“There is a lot of emotion in the room, and as long as we don’t address this as a full point of urgency, we will remain going around in circles, and mutual distrust will not vanish,” said Member of the Dutch Second Chamber of Parliament Silvana Simons of the BIJ1 party.
“We will get nowhere if we pretend that emotions are not a valid part of politics, of coming together in this constellation. Discussing matters of trust is always painful for everyone, but we need to talk about this, maybe even with a mediator,” said Simons.
During Wednesday’s meeting, the delegations agreed to seek more involvement of the parliaments of the Kingdom in the process of coming to mutual regulations. It was agreed that the governments of the four countries in the Kingdom must inform the parliaments beforehand of the wish to arrive at a mutual regulation, and not after the fact.
MP Sarah Wescot-Williams of the Democratic Party (DP) St. Maarten remarked that the decision points about the mutual regulations and the democratic deficit were already established at the previous IPKO. “This is not something of today,” she said.
“Where are the instructions that should have come from our parliaments to our governments? Where are the concrete proposals about addressing the democratic deficit? They should have been here since September,” said Wescot-Williams, who also wanted to know where the Kingdom Conference was where these matters are to be discussed.
Member of the Second Chamber Jorien Wuite of the Democratic Party D66 asked the IPKO participants whether they agreed that the parliaments should have a role in the future Kingdom Conference, in the preparations and at the conference itself.
Wuite’s question was a follow-up to her earlier adopted motion in the Second Chamber that called for organizing a Kingdom Conference to discuss pressing matters. Heyliger-Marten said she seconded Wuite’s proposal to have the parliaments be present at the Kingdom Conference.
The Dutch delegation agreed that the parliaments should be involved in this conference, which is still in the planning phase. In stating this, Dutch delegation leader Mariëlle Paul proposed that the IPKO would ask the governments to see if the Charter should be modernized, and if so, in what way.
Today, Friday, the IPKO will conclude with the signing of the decision list and a joint press conference.