Editorial – The St Martiner exception. Yes, but…

Par F. LETUVEE février 3, 2012 17:51

Editorial – The St Martiner exception. Yes, but…

So many things make of St Martin a unique place. Although it belongs to France, it offers a taste of other lands, the legitimacy of its own identity. St Martin is not French Metropole, Guadeloupe or anything else.

This specific character has mainly – and quite rightly in my opinion – led to a deep institutional change.

 Yet, as for all good things, some elements are less exciting. In other words, the flip side of such change.

 • It was hard to identify taxpayers; and this issue has strengthened – even if it was unintentional – as the French State did not have any representation in St Martin until 1963. Besides, tax exemption and globalisation opened the doors of St Martin to a wave of both people who were well informed about this situation and people who rightly discovered the “French-style” social protection system. At that time, the State guaranteed the budget of the Commune, thus not finding it necessary to regulate the lack of a “tax culture” and, thus, tax evasion. And those who turned a blind eye on these issues for decades have examined themselves well enough to consider they can now nominate a candidate to head a collectivity governed by Article 74, which they first opposed. We now understand why Article 74 requires reforms and performance, it involves that some issues must be clarified – and some people have benefited from grey areas to prosper.

• Another local characteristic is that we feel closer to American culture than to French one, as seen in our daily lives. But no at every level… for example, in the US, even homeless people will find 25 cents to support their candidate, while in St Martin, supporters will be more likely to exact a price for their support – sometimes in a quite rude way.

 • Lastly, although this is unfortunately not the last feature, it is a least a topical one. It seems that any group can claim the right to receive the candidates for a sort of “oral exam”: groups of individuals, associations, federations, the Collectivité itself… and why not the Economic, social and cultural council (CESC), the neighbourhood boards, the supermarkets, the night clubs and so on!

 We must bear in mind that all these “groups” have chosen their candidate a long time ago and the unique image covered by the media is often a democratic wool pulled over the people eyes to preserve the illusion.

 You are not satisfied yet? How do you explain that a potential candidate focuses only on promoting himself, without seeking to select a team? Isn’t this an election by list? Well actually, the candidate can focus on himself and work hard to polish his image, because in the meanwhile, the list is set up by other people, within an association that will support him. All this has probably been set long ago.

 Therefore, I will give an advice that may sound presumptuous: do not take what you read or what people want to tell you for granted, make your own opinion, go beyond a reality that seems too obvious, and think forward to what would be the consequences of a new currency, for example. You have liked the euro, do you still remember how much a baguette used to cost in French franc? A new general tax code – since we do not like taxes, would it not be better to know once and for all what is in store for us? 62 acres of paradise-like embankments. For whom ? For you ? How about local labor? 40,000 official inhabitants who cannot be assumed on 54 km2; and we still need more people?

 It is quite fair to consider that the crisis is impacting and to be concerned about our future. But should we loose our mind and believe in fairy tails or rather roll up our sleeves and be responsible and creative?


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Par F. LETUVEE février 3, 2012 17:51

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