Its Friday August 23, 2005, election day in Aruba. Arubans will chose a prime minister and all 21 seats in the parliament today. Presently the ruling party (MEP) has a 12-6 majority over the main opposition, the AVP in the single-house legislature.
The ruling party has a 12-6 majority over the main opposition, the AVP in the single-house legislature. The rest are in the hands of two smaller left-of-center parties – the Patriotic Party of Aruba, which holds two seats, and the Liberal Organization of Aruba, which has one. Five smaller parties have no seats, and are not expected to pick up any in this election.
If the present ruling party, MEP, cannot hold on to at least 11 seats; they will have to form a coalition government with a collection of some of the smaller parties. That’s when politics and gamesmanship gets interesting.
I will say this, check out the actual percentage of people who participate in voting in Aruba.
Aruba is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, but it has full autonomy on most matters. Exceptions are defense, foreign affairs, and the Supreme Court. The constitution was enacted in January 1986. Executive power rests with a governor, and a prime minister heads an eight-member Cabinet.
Doesn’t this sound familiar? Some of the key issues in this years elections will be focused on immigration and frustration over stagnant salaries lagging behind inflation.
Aruba’s population has grown by more than 50 percent since 1991 to more than 100,000 people – an increase fueled in part by immigrants from Venezuela and Colombia who were encouraged to come by the government to fill service sector jobs. The influx has caused some friction, especially in the schools, where students increasingly only know Spanish in classes taught in Dutch. The AVP’s Sen. Oduber has called for a reduction in the number of new immigrants.
The immigration issue has been a hot button topic.
“We have a sufficient number of people on the island in terms of the number of jobs that are available, and I don’t think we should be bringing more people into Aruba,” Obduber said. “I’m not saying that the immigrants should be sent home.”
From the Boston Globe earlier this summer came the following tense dealings with the issue of immigration, crime and unemployment.
In an effort to curb crime and unemployment, the Dutch government has proposed deporting young people from the Netherlands Antilles and Aruba who neither have jobs nor are in school. “People come to Holland whenever the economy is bad or when they feel insecure,” Breeveld said. The government proposal, which came before Holloway’s disappearance, faces legal challenges because people from the islands — former colonies that remain part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands — are Dutch citizens. Islanders say the move is discriminatory and have vowed to fight it in court. But there is little security here for newcomers following the expulsion measure proposed last April by the conservative government of Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende. Under the plan, young immigrants would have three months to find a job, enroll in studies or return home. The proposal, which is not in effect, was denounced by the Antillean parliament. Prime Minister Etienne Ys failed to budge Balkenende when he came to The Hague earlier this month, and left the meeting acknowledging he was “angry.”
The underlying issue that no one seems to want to discuss in this election that has to be on Aruban’s minds is the Natalee Holloway investigation and the possibility of a potential boycott due to the perception of the mishandling of the case. From the outside looking in, one wonders if Arubans will question how the present government has handled the investigation in the eyes of the world or rally around them with the threat of a potential looming boycott? Or whether they will even consider the matter at all and make all politics local?