Aruban general election, 2009
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General elections were held in Aruba on 25 September 2009 to choose the 21 members of the Estates (the parliament of Aruba). Aruba is an autonomous region of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and has full autonomy over its internal affairs with defence and foreign affairs overseen by the Dutch government. The elections were the seventh to be held for membership of the Estates since autonomy was granted by the Dutch in 1986.
The Estates are the 21 seat legislature of Aruba and members are elected for four year terms using a proportional representation system of election, with each party being allowed to place up to 29 people on their party list. The members are not elected to constituencies and represent the entire electorate. The party or coalition which wins a majority will select a Prime Minister. Prior to this election the People's Electoral Movement (MEP) were the governing party, holding eleven seats. The main opposition Aruban People's Party (AVP) held eight with the Network of Electoral Democracy and the Aruban Patriotic Movement holding a seat apiece.
Eight political parties contested the election and there were 64,600 eligible voters. Pre-election polls showed the Aruban People's Party were expected to win, campaigning to reduce inflation and abolish a tax on local business. The AVP also pledged to address concerns over the island's oil refinery operated by Valero Energy, which has been closed since mid-July and provided jobs for around one thousand people, and a recent decline in tourists visiting the island. The People's Electoral Movement pledged to diversify the economy and reduce debt and living costs.
The political parties of Aruba were represented by specific colors during the campaign. For example, the winning Aruban People's Party (AVP) is known as the "green party," the Movimiento Electorial di Pueblo (MEP) is the "yellow party" and the independent Real Democracy Party is identified as the "red party."
Eight separate political parties and 167 individual candidates contested the election for seats in the Estates. The Aruban Director of the Register of Population and electoral council member Sharline Luidens forbade the press from taking photos inside polling stations during the election.
A turnout of 85% was recorded for the election which proceeded without disruption. Governor Fredis Refunjol and his wife, Clarette, voted at the Sacred Heart School in Savaneta early Friday morning and urged all Arubans to vote as well. Incumbent Prime Minister Nelson Oduber and his wife, Glenda, cast their ballots at the EPB School in Hato, on the edge of Oranjestad. AVP leader Mike Eman voted in the afternoon at the Colegio Arubano, a junior-senior high school, with his wife, Doina, and his brother, Henny Eman, who was Aruba's first Prime Minister. Doina Eman, who is originally from the United States, had recently acquired her Dutch passport and this was the first Aruban election in which she was eligible to vote.
Polls closed in Aruba at 7:00 pm local time. Early results began filtering in approximately 8:30 pm. The first results reported in were from the Noord District, which showed a marked support for the AVP. Twelve election precincts in Oranjestad, the capital, were also won by the AVP early in the evening. The AVP, which is identified by the color green, also won eight polling stations in San Nicolas, the site of the recently closed Valero Energy oil refinery.
Support declined for Nelson Obuder's MEP party across the island. The MEP, which is known as the "yellow party", captured its traditional stronghold of Santa Cruz, as well as precincts in portions of Savaneta and Paradera. Support for the MEP ultimately dropped from eleven to eight seats in the Estates. Nelson's MEP party received a total of 19,812 votes nationwide, which was 6,673 votes less than the winning AVP.
The AVP, led by Mike Eman, claimed 48% of the vote and twelve seats in the Estates, making Eman the 5th Prime Minister-Elect of Aruba with an absolute majority of three seats in the 21-seat House. The MEP won 36% of the vote and eight seats, with the final seat being won by the Real Democracy Party. This meant that Nelson Oduber, the demissionary Prime Minister of Aruba, had lost control of the Estates for the first time in eight years. Eman arrived at the AVP party headquarters in Oranjestad, where he was greeted by approximately 2,000 supporters dressed in green, the color of the AVP. The victory was marked by AVP supporters letting off fireworks and unfurling flags in the green livery of the party. In his speech, Eman thanked Aruba's Latino and Haitian communities. The winning party of an Aruban election traditionally celebrates with a parade following the election.
Oduber blamed the MEP's defeat on Dutch interference in Aruba's affairs, in particular referring to a recent announcement that the Dutch authorities would commence an investigation into corruption on the island. Oduber also singled out Valero Energy CEO Bill Klesse, accusing him of taking sides in the election against the MEP by closing the refinery shortly before the election took place. In a speech carried only on Aruban Channel 22, Oduber did not congratulate the winning AVP. Instead, he said that the AVP should work to fulfill its "unreal promise" to Arubans.
In some respects, the 2009 election mirrored the 1985 election. In 1985, the oil refinery in San Nicholas had also closed down shortly before the election, costing the ruling party seats in the Estates.
|Aruban People's Party (Arubaanse Volkspartij)||26,485||48.05||12|
|People's Electoral Movement (Movimiento Electoral di Pueblo)||19,812||35.94||8|
|Real Democracy Party (Partido Democracia Real)||3,140||5.70||1|
|Aruban Patriotic Movement (Movimento Patriotico Arubano)||2,443||4.43||—|
|Network of Electoral Democracy (Red Electoral Democratico)||2,371||4.30||—|
|Aruban Patriotic Party (Partido Patriótico Arubano)||611||1.11||—|
|United Christians Reinforcing Aruba's Potential (Cristiannan Uni Reforzando Potencial di Aruba)||138||0.25||—|
|Independent Social Movement/Aruban Liberal Organization (Movimento Social Independiente/Organisacion Liberal Arubiano)||125||0.23||—|
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