Vote buying occurs mainly because many St Maarteners realize that if they want any type of assistance from government, they have to catch them during the election campaign, when they are needed by the politicians for their vote.
The day after an election, St Maarten politicians won’t get off of their cellphones to speak to the very same constituents who voted them in, and they certainly won’t get out of their chauffeur driven, air conditioned SUV’s to listen to a citizens’ problems.
The politicians ignore the voters for about three years and eight months. Suddenly, it’s election time and the politician is now eager to pretend to care, to get every last vote.
The voters know that the majority of the politicians platform is based on lies and false promises, so before an election is the only time the voter has somewhat of the upper hand.
The politician approaches the voter, and says “Vote for me, I will help to change the system”, The voter’s response is usually something like, “but I’ve been going to the Government Administration building every day, begging the government to fix the road in front of my property, and nobody has assisted me. The roads do not just affect my automobile and my property, there are twenty other people who have to use that road every day, and they have the same issues and complaints with the government.”
The politician now realizes that if he assists the voter in fixing the road, he might not just have one vote, but twenty more votes.
The next week, you’ll see bulldozers and back-hoe’s showing up to fix the damaged road.
Then to get the unemployed and youth vote, the politicians throw some cash around the hood, offering the down trodden jobs doing clean up etc…
The politicians will then use these young guys, pay them a little bit of money, promise them big money projects once they are elected, and these are the guys who are seen during the elections, putting up posters and billboards, ‘beautifying’ and cleaning up the streets and other property.
Most of these guys know, that once the elections are over, the cellphone numbers will change and they will be lucky to find work anywhere, so they do it. It’s a part of the St Maarten political game.
The people with the roads that need to be repaired will not turn down the politician who offers to help during the campaign, because they know once the votes are cast, they will have to spend another four years running back and forth to the Government Administration building with the road issues to no avail.
Parents trying to secure a scholarship for their children, or to cover school costs or medical expenses also know that the only time that they might get any assistance, is during the election campaign.
Many people have given up on going to the Government Administration Building or to Parliament to beg their politicians to do the right thing. They just wait for election time, and they WAIT for any politician to approach them to get a vote.
Then they make their demands.
That is the St Maarten electoral system.
Vote buying also includes many other methods, before camera phones many politicians would simply stand around at popular voting booths with wads of cash in their pockets, to slip to the voter as they are on the way to the booth.
Some voters new to the game actually believed the ‘big contract’ promises of politicians such as Maurice Lake, who reneged on just about every single promise that he made in 2014.
They showed up at Parliament with two by four plywood looking for the politicians who had lied to them with fake promises.
I was there when Robby, Parliaments’ ‘security’, had to handle the issue with those Sucker Garden Boys getting into the building with plywood looking for Maurice Lake.
So the public had a few weeks to get what they needed to out of the politicians, because they know today that the vote count is over, so their politician will not be seen, or heard, or show up in their neighborhood, for at least another three and a half years.
If your name is Francesco Corallo, and you’re worth 30 billion, you don’t just buy the vote, you buy the politician… You buy several in fact, just to make sure that you own a Parliamentarian, who can simply keeps the seat warm, and regulate laws so that they benefit you.