PHILIPSBURG--The Democratic Party (DP) board has requested its leader Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams (DP) consider the possibility of inviting international monitors to prepare a mission to observe the 2014 parliamentary elections, and for the monitoring agency to include locals in its team for them to gain experience in best practices for future elections.
DP Board President Michael Ferrier said an election monitoring mission should be broad in scope and not limited to the actual election day activities. The monitoring should commence "as soon as possible" to have the observers review and report on the preparations for the elections. "Optimally, the mission should be endorsed by St. Maarten's Parliament."
Based on recent statements by members/boards of National Alliance (NA) and the United People's (UP) party, Wescot-Williams "should expect, at the very least, to be supported by these two parties in her call for outside election monitors. She may even be hopeful to get unanimous support from all members of Parliament," Ferrier said in a press statement.
While government will decide on the international agency to use, DP suggested that this be an organisation such as the National Democratic Institute (NDI), a non-profit organisation that works with international and domestic election observers around the world, and has been involved in more than 150 international election observation missions.
DP, according to Ferrier, believes that time has come to improve the degree to which the public confidence in the election process is enhanced. "We believe we can increase the honesty of our electoral process by inviting monitors (observers) from internationally respected institutions. Moreover, external expertise can be helpful in terms of strengthening the process by identifying weak practices."
He added that given the current integrity environment in the country, monitoring can go a long way in terms of discouraging manipulation and fraud. "By removing the ability of a voter to prove for whom he/she voted, the economics of purchasing people's vote is fundamentally changed. This will eliminate pressure from (overly zealous, bordering on corrupt) politicians insisting on proof of voting."
DP's call for international monitoring stems from criminal investigations related to alleged election fraud during the 2010 elections and inquiries about alleged misconduct of some holders of public office.
Ferrier said on behalf of the DP board that given the fact that the 2014 vote is in fact the first general election for St. Maarten since becoming a country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, "it is even more important that the process proceeds smoothly, i.e. in keeping with the requisite legislation related to the electoral process. Transparency and correctness of the preparation, execution and follow up to the electoral process is a priority."