Published On: Fri, Oct 7th, 2016

MAN narrowly wins elections in Curacao ahead of the MFK

WILLEMSTAD –MAN won the elections in Curacao on Wednesday with 16.2 percent of the vote. Behind MAN are MFK (Movementu Futuro Kòrsou) with 16 percent and PAR (Partido Antiá Restruckturá) 15.1 percent. All three parties won four seats in the 21-seat parliament, that will consists of eight factions.

The new party KDNT (Kòrsou Di Nos Tur) van Amparo dos Santos won three seats, PNP (Partido Nashonal di Pueblo) and Pueblo Soberano won two seats each and the Movementu Progressivo van Marilyn Moses and Omayra Leeflang’s Un Kòrsou Hustu one seat each.

The question is now with which parties MAN will form a coalition, Elisa Koek reports on Caribisch Netwerk. The former leader of MAN, Charles Cooper, had no problem working together with Gerrit Schotte’s MFK, but the current party leader Hensley Koeiman evaded the question. “We work together with people who are honest and who meet our conditions. Who they are we still have to figure out.”

The turnout for the elections was 66 percent; 120,469 citizens cast their votes.

Shortly after the first polling stations had reported their results it appeared already that MAN was doing very well. PAR and MFK briefly topped Hensley Koeiman’s MAN, but in the end the latter party remained stable in first place. “We have made a complete comeback,” says Yaël Plet, the number 6 on the MAN-list. “We have shown that we are transparent and that we want to work together with honest people.” Enrique Kloot concurs: “Our planning and our vision check out; everything is regulated well and people know it. No more corruption.”

Who those honest people are, nobody is saying. PAR reacts positive to the results of MAN. “We certainly see it as a good development that MAN is at the top,” says Stephen Walroud.

The PAR is also making a comeback. “We had hoped this would happen, but we did not expect it,” says party-leader Zita Jesus-Leito. It is the first time she leads the party in an election. “That makes it very special. We are happy that we have the trust of the people again.”

There were also happy faces at Gerrit Schotte’s MFK. Already around 8 p.m. on Wednesday night there were cars honking in the streets to express their support for the party. Sithree van Heydoorn says that the party saw its success coming. “You hear the stories on the street and you follow the polls so you are prepared.”

With whom the MFK want to form a coalition, Van Heydoorn cannot say; that still has to be discussed.

What will happen when party-leader Gerrit Schotte is convicted (on appeal – ed.) and ends up in prison when the MFK is part of a coalition, Van Heydoorn does not know either. “Who will take his chair in that situation? I cannot make any statements about that; that really depends on the future.”

The smaller parties booked small results. The party of former Prime Minister Ivar Asjes won only 1.4 percent of the vote. Ex-PAR member Omayra Leeflang scored 5.6 percent, but she is not disappointed. “I had zero seats and now I have one. I would have loved to win two or three seats because then you can make a difference; that’s unfortunate.”

Leeflang would have loved to give her position to her number two Gwendell Mercedes because she is moving towards the end of her political career. “I want a party that gives opportunities to young leaders, because for me these are the last years. Four years from now Mrs. Leeflang won’t be a part of this anymore.”

Coalition partners VVD and PvdA in The Hague are relieved about the results of the elections. They assume that “corrupt politicians” will not be part of the next government, John Samson reports.

Parliamentarians were seriously concerned that Gerrit Schotte would return to power, but Hensley Koeiman’s MAN beat Schotte’s MFK by a margin of 300 votes.

Schotte had hoped for a large victory; he could take part in the elections because he has appealed his conviction to 3 years of imprisonment for fraud, money laundering and forgery.

Dutch parliamentarians also disapprove of Amparo dos Santos, who won three seats with his party KDNT.

Schotte congratulated MAN with its victory but added that he will ask for a recount because the difference between the two parties is so small. That is remarkable because the official result still has to be presented.

MP André Bosman (VVD) assumes that there were no irregularities. “I regret that there has not been an observer-mission. I would have loved to see that.”

Winner MAN has a reputation in The Hague as a constructive party. For the PvdA it is special that is old sister party has become the biggest party in Curacao, says Roelof van Laar. The party is on a new and good course, he says, better than when the party joined a coalition with MFK and PS between 2010 and 2012.

During the past couple of years, Socialist Party MP Ronald van Raak often appeared in the media with critical opinion pieces about Schotte, corruption and the gambling industry. He says it is justified that Dutch parliamentarians interfere this way in local politics on the island. “Of course I have no say in the island’s political choices. But as long as Curacao is part of the kingdom I am co-responsible for good governance and for the safeguarding of the constitutional state.”

The new coalition has to hurry up tackling poverty in Curacao, says Glenn Helberg of the Antillean lobby group OCaN. He says that poor Curacaoleneans are migrating to the Netherlands and many of them are getting into trouble because they have problems settling down or finding a job.