Numbers tell the tale

You don’t need to study numerology to understand that there is a science to numbers and we instinctively make assessments and judgments based on the information we get from them. This is especially true in politics on St. Maarten where for years the voters have been methodically trained to value the top numbers on a list above all else.

As an example of this we can look at the recent unveiling of the UP Party on St. Maarten list of candidates for the upcoming elections. A total of 23 candidates were revealed. What I found most interesting was the placement of candidates on the list.

Dr Rhoda Arrindell Credit: UP Party St Maarten
Dr Rhoda Arrindell
Credit: UP Party St Maarten

Case and point former Minister of Education Rhoda Arrindell, in fact, the first Minister of Education since St. Maarten received country status in 2010. She’s highly respected on many fronts including education, culture, sports, and youth affairs. Even before taking office she was always highly visible and has maintained a level of integrity that is rare in the St Maarten political sphere. This continued after leaving office.

Why was she at #14 and not in the top 7? To place her that far down the list sends the message that she’s not considered strong enough to lead and impact the team. Yes, the rules have changed and no matter where you are on the list as long as you get the votes you can have your seat but subconsciously it says you don’t have what it takes.

Gracita Arrindell and Party Leader Theo Heyliger Credit: UP Party St Maarten
Gracita Arrindell and Party Leader Theo Heyliger
Credit: UP Party St Maarten

I expected President of the Parliament Drs Gracita Arrindell to be in #2 which she is. However, several of the top 10 slots have been given to former members of other parties, who over the past three years left in very public ways. These include Dr. Lloyd Richardson at #4 and Terry Peterson at #8 who were both with National Alliance (NA) and you get a better picture.

The strategy is not a new one, bring former party members into your fold and hope they bring their votes with them. However, traditionally Democratic Party and National Alliance supporters are extremely loyal and those who leave will be seen more as traitors and not people to follow to a new political party. So in effect, these favorably placed “new” candidates are actually going to be competing internally with (typically younger) candidates who have been with the party from the beginning. History says these “new” candidates will end up robbing the younger loyal candidates of their chance to lead.

The larger message that the numbers send is that the UP Party does not have faith in the members who have been with them from the onset.

It will be interesting to see what happens in the coming weeks leading up to the 2014 elections.

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