Published On: Thu, May 30th, 2013

Who does the formateur talk to?

Etienne YsAfter election or the fall of a government, the Governor tries to form a new government which may rely upon the confidence of the majority of the Parliament.

Contrary to what some think, the formation procedure is not described in the Constitution nor the Rules of Procedure of the Parliament. Only in the screening law, adopted last year, describes how the formateur or Prime Minister has to deal with the screening of candidate ministers.

The formation process is born out of a constitutional tradition that focuses on the formation of a government that can rely on a majority of the Parliament.

The question is, to whom does the (in) formateur (s) go during the formation of a cabinet and to whom does he communicate? This question may be relevant if a political leader or faction leader suddenly falls away during the formation process.

The Governor takes the following steps in the process.

First, he starts with a consultation. The Governor can be advised. On the basis of this consultation the Governor tries to formulate a formation command and appoint formateur.

The press release of the latest round of consultations held by the Governor reads as follows: "Following the resignation of [....] submitted by the Prime Minister, the Governor starts consultations with [....].

The consultations shall take place on [....] with the Minister of State, Vice President of the Advisory Board, the President of the Parliament [....] and the leaders of all political parties [....] on basis of the election [....] which have one or more seats in the Parliament. "

This is a standard consultation group, but the Governor is of course free to deviate.

We see here that the Governor invites the leaders of the political parties and not the faction leaders of the political parties in Parliament. As a rule, the leaders of the political parties have several hats on like that of the Parliament faction leader.

After the consultation, the Governor proceeds with the appointment of the formateur and also gives him an assignment. At the point the formation, the formateur always corresponds with the (leaders, presidents and representatives of) political parties. There are often assembled committees in the political parties to deal more in depth with certain topics.

The press release of the last formation process reads, so far as relevant: "The current coalition, consisting of three political parties, namely Pueblo Soberano, PAIS and PNP, as well as the independent Member of Parliament, Mr G. Sulvaran, have indicated that they wish to form a cabinet that will continue with the implementation of the coalition agreement that the leaders of these parties or the members of Parliament  [....] have signed. Leaders the three parties mentioned and the independent Member of Parliament have expressed the wish to appoint Mr. G. Camelia as formateur."

From this press release which shows who the relevant personages are, being the formateur and representatives (leader, president, etc.) of the political parties. We also see that the independent member of Parliament is not identified as a faction leader but more like a person in possession of a Parliament seat independently positions himself with regards to his former party.

How should the formateur now deal with a letter signed by all members of a Parliament faction? This should be seen as correspondence from the party or independent members of Parliament? Or will the formateur consider this a flaw?

The position that the formateur takes can determine the completion of the formation process.

Something to think about.

Etienne Ys (former Prime Minister of the Netherlands Antilles)

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