MFK won Curaçao’s elections by a landslide with more than double the votes of its closest rival PAR, while PNP returned to Parliament with a bang. Together they have 13 of 21 seats for a comfortable majority.
Observers believe the coronavirus-related restrictive measures and socioeconomic crisis played a huge role in the result because when things go bad people tend to blame government, in this case coalition parties PAR and MAN, which lost respectively two and three seats.
That MFK earned a record nine seats also had to do with nine of the 15 parties on the ballot not making the seat threshold but still getting a combined 23,361 votes, near MFK’s total of 23,559. This translated to nine residual seats of which MFK received four, PAR and PNP two each, and MAN one.
All the above takes nothing away from what MFK’s new leader Gilmar “Pik” Pisas has been able to do with the party founded by former Prime Minister Gerrit Schotte, jailed for accepting a political bribe. Also convicted former Health Minister Jacinta Constancia was no longer on the list either, allowing for what Pisas called “a clean slate.”
Ruthmilda “Mimi” Larmonie-Cecilia had already done well before as candidate of “Pueblo Soberano” and the new PNP leader not only got the party back into Parliament, but with four seats.
The question is not so much who will form the next government as how they handle agreements made with the Netherlands regarding the “country package” of restructuring measures and supervision by a Caribbean Body for Reform and Development COHO in exchange for more liquidity support and investments. MFK wants new negotiations, while PNP would like to see adjustments made to fit the local reality.
Of course, the Dutch government has also taken on caretaker status following elections there and although the VVD of Prime Minister Mark Rutte won, voter support for coalition partner D66 has grown to the extent that two scouts, one of each party, were named to explore the formation options. There could consequently be some shift in the approach towards the Dutch Caribbean countries, but the outgoing Second Chamber unanimously backed the chosen path, and The Hague is characterized by a large degree of continuity in policy.
St. Maarten will be closely watching, and not just because it is in a monetary union with Curaçao. Friday’s election result there was a vote against cooperation with the Netherlands, according to Dutch parliamentarian for the Socialist Party (SP) Ronald van Raak, who mentioned that the recent agreements reached with Curaçao and St. Maarten are at risk.
The latter refers to a letter sent to the United Nations (UN) on behalf of the Parliament in Philipsburg, accusing the Netherlands of using financial assistance as tool to practice racial discrimination and neo-colonialism. While St. Maarten’s government cannot speak on behalf of the legislature, it is important to continue sending The Hague reassuring signals that commitments made will be honored.