As an island territory, Sint Maarten was governed by the Island Regulation of the Netherlands Antilles, and in accordance herewith the administration units of the Island Territory were: the Island Council, Executive Council and Lt. Governor.
As of October 10, 2010, Sint Maarten is now governed by its own Constitution and the following institutions of government: Governor as Head of State, Parliament, and the Council of Ministers headed by the Prime Minister.
The parliament is the highest legislative body of country Sint Maarten and represents the entire population of the Dutch side of the island. The parliament consists of 15 members who are elected for a four-year period.
The session year of parliament commences on the second Tuesday of September. During this session, the Governor provides an explanation of the policy to be pursued by the government.
The parliament elects a President and Deputy President from its own numbers.
The President of Parliament shall open and close the session year of the Parliament.
The Council of Ministers
The council of ministers comprises of seven ministers. The ministers are answerable to the parliament. The prime minister chairs the council of ministers. The council of ministers shall debate and determine government policy in order to promote the cohesion of that policy. If the governor general attends a meeting of the council of ministers, he/she shall do so in an advisory capacity.
The prime minister and other ministers shall be appointed and dismissed by national ordinance. If a minister no longer enjoys the confidence of the parliament, he/she shall surrender his/her office.
The Minister of Plenipotentiary must have the Dutch nationality. This person represents the island in the Kingdom Council of Ministers meetings in The Hague, The Netherlands. The minister also has his/her office in the Netherlands under the banner of the “Sint Maarten House.”
Each minister heads one of seven ministries which are established by national ordinance.
System of Government
Sint Maarten is a part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, with full autonomy in internal affairs. The Kingdom Government is responsible for defense and foreign affairs. The Queen of the Netherlands is Head of State and is represented by the Governor.
Other institutions of government are the Council of Advice, the General Audit Chamber and Ombudsman.
The courts forming part of the judiciary are: the Court at First Instance; the Common Court of Justice of Aruba, Curacao, Sint Maarten and Bonaire, St. Eustatius, and Saba. The jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of the Netherlands in relation to legal cases in Sint Maarten shall be regulated by Kingdom law.
The responsibilities of the judiciary are: the adjudication of disputes on civil matters; the trial of criminal offences; and the adjudication of disputes on administrative law matters.
The duty of the court is to assess the compatibility of any applicable statutory regulations. The constitutional court consists of three members, including a president and a vice president, and three substitute members.