Only 15 seats are up for grabs by the four main parties registered to contest the elections. This election will usher in a new political status for the island. In addition to their sister island, Curacao, St. Maarten will on October 10, become a new “independent” country, though still within the Dutch Kingdom. The date is promoted in St. Maarten as 10-10-10.
Polls were scheduled to open at 7:00am, in the 16 polling stations throughout the Dutch territoty.
The remaining territories of St. Eustatius, Bonaire and Saba are to become municipalities within the Dutch Kingdom.
Some 19,601 voters are registered to cast their ballots for candidates representing the four parties, namely- the Concordia People’s Alliance, (CPA), the United People’s Party, (UPPA), the Democratic Party, (DP) and the National Alliance, (NA). Compared to the recent Antillean Parliament elections in January, 2010, only 246 voters have been added to the list for this contest.
Ahead of Friday’s polling, the political parties were expressing confidence during their final rallies on Wednesday night, (Sept 15).
The support of voters who were not born in St. Maarten, will be crucial in this election. From the 19,601 registered voters, some 8, 422, were born outside of the Dutch Kingdom. In the previous elections this year, that number was 8,362.
Though it is still very difficult to predict, some polls have placed the United People’s Party of Theo Heyliger, as the favourite to win the most votes. Political observers believe however, that no party win secure a clear majority and the likelihood of a coalition government is now more apparent. The NA and the DP are also said to be popular choices. Pundits are however, looking to a good showing from the DP headed by Sarah Wescot-Williams.
While expectations of independent St. Maarten are high on the island, the citizens and political leaders on Curacao have not planned any celebrations for the occasion.