Dutch Relieved After Mainstream Parties Win Curaçao Election

The populist Movement for the Future of Curaçao will likely be kept out of power.

The old harbor of Willemstad, Curaçao seen from a bus, December 24, 2007
The old harbor of Willemstad, Curaçao seen from a bus, December 24, 2007 (Gail Frederick)

Former prime minister Gerrit Schotte has lost the election on Curaçao, avoiding a standoff with the European Netherlands, which is loath to work with the corrupt politician.

Schotte’s populist Movement for the Future of Curaçao (MFK) gained one seat in the island’s legislature on Friday, winning five seats altogether, but the mainstream parties did better.

The liberal Party for the Restructured Antilles (PAR) and the social democratic Partido MAN won a majority between them. They can now govern alone, although they may add one or two small parties to round out a coalition.

Relief

Dutch politicians voiced relief. Interior Minister Ronald Plasterk congratulated Curaçao’s governor, Lucille George-Wout, on organizing the vote without incident.

In an unprecedented Dutch intervention in the island’s affairs, George-Wout was given authority last month over public services to make sure the elections could go ahead.

Schotte and his supporters had suggested canceling the election, which was called after they toppled the MAN-led coalition of Hensley Koeiman.

Koeiman lost his majority when the pro-independence Sovereign People switched sides. They were punished by voters on Friday, losing one of their two seats.

Dilemma

Schotte has been barred from public office since he was convicted of bribery, money laundering and forgery of documents last year. But he is appealing the verdict and can still take his seat in parliament.

An MFK victory would have been a dilemma for the Dutch, who are 8,000 kilometers away. They can’t work with Schotte, who blames the Netherlands for all the island’s problems, but nor could they have ignored the result of a free and fair election that brought him back to power.

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