2020 Surinamese general election

Parliamentary elections were held in Suriname on 25 May 2020.[1] The elections occurred concurrently with an economic crisis in Suriname, as well as the COVID-19 crisis.

Electoral systemEdit

The 51 seats in the National Assembly are elected using party-list proportional representation under the D'Hondt method in ten multi-member constituencies containing between two and seventeen seats.[2] The ten electoral constituencies are coterminous with the ten administrative districts of Suriname. Voters also have the option of casting a preferential vote for one of the candidates on the chosen list in order to increase their place in the list, and the candidate(s) having obtained the most preferential votes in the lists that obtained seats are declared elected. The National Assembly subsequently elects the President.

CampaignEdit

Both the V7 and A-Combination coalitions were dissolved shortly after the prior elections. Electoral alliances (which may have allowed residual votes of the combined parties to obtain an extra seat) were banned in 2019.[3] The Amazon Party and Party for Law and Development decided to cooperate for the elections,[4] with Amazon Party candidates appearing on the list of the Party of Law and Development.[5] The pair of ABOP and Pertjajah Luhur, as well as the pair of BEP and HVB, also decided to cooperate, opening their lists in certain regions to the other if one lacked a viable presence there.[6]

As a new parliament elects the president of the country after it sits, incumbent President Dési Bouterse (who had been ruling since 2010) and his NDP were hoping to pull off an election win in order to re-elect him for a third term, thereby retaining his national immunity from arrest for homicide charges he was convicted of by a Surinamese military court in 2019 regarding his involvement in the December murders.[7] Europol also had an active warrant out for his arrest since 16 July 1999 for cocaine trafficking,[8] although Suriname does not extradite its own citizens. According to WikiLeaks cables released in 2011, Bouterse was active in the drug trade until 2006.[9]

EconomyEdit

The second Bouterse cabinet was inaugurated in 2015 amid a recession that would peak the following year.[10] The country's debt would end up nearly doubling between 2015 and 2019,[11] partially because of economic woes as well as increased government spending and hiring of new government employees, which then made up 53% of the country's workforce (with an average wage of under USD$350 per month).[12] A poll among the readers on the website of Dagblad Suriname, a popular newspaper, showed that about two weeks before the elections, around 90% were concerned about the debts that Suriname had to pay off.[13]

In January 2020, it was announced that the equivalent of around USD$100 million had disappeared from the Central Bank of Suriname (CBvS).[14] Robert-Gray van Trikt, the Governor of the Central Bank, was remanded in custody on suspicion of conflicts of interest and falsification of loan dates.[15] In April, the Public Prosecutor's Office filed a request with the National Assembly to indict Minister of Finance Gillmore Hoefraad with the aim of prosecuting him.[16]

The Inter-American Development Bank also forecast a 5.6% decline in the economy due to COVID-19,[17] and during the same time, prices for oil (a well of which was recently discovered off the country's coast) sharply fell, causing a loss of interest from investors. The government also passed a law on 22 March temporarily blocking foreign exchange transactions as a result of the value of the Surinamese dollar falling. On 1 April, Standard & Poor's downgraded the country's credit rating from B to CCC.[12]

COVID-19Edit

The elections would take place during the COVID-19 pandemic. Suriname's first case was diagnosed on 13 March,[18] and the country would close its borders completely the following day.[19] A curfew from 8pm to 6am would also be implemented over the following weeks.[12]

ConductEdit

The vote still had not been officially certified four days after the election. Four opposition parties have alleged that this is because the ruling National Democratic Party is attempting to tamper with the votes. On May 28, Ronnie Brunswijk of the opposition General Liberation and Development Party stated that NDP-affiliated people, including Dési Bouterse's grandson, came to the building where votes were being counted and attempted to steal boxes of votes and start fires.[20]

On 28 May, the Onafhankelijk Kiesbureau (Independent Electoral Office) announced that it would take at least two weeks before the electoral results were declared final.[21]

After four new cases of COVID-19 were identified, the process of counting the votes was halted.[22]

Preliminary resultsEdit

The VHP obtained its best election result since 1973, more than doubling its previous number of seats and becoming the largest party in the National Assembly. President Dési Bouterse's NDP, meanwhile, lost a substantial number of its seats likely in part due to increasing economic woes in the country and criminal charges brought against him in prior years. ABOP obtained its best result since its foundation in 1990, obtaining 8 seats, while the PL obtained its worst result since its foundation, only getting two seats.

 
Party Votes % Seats +/–
Progressive Reform Party VHP 108,256 39.52 20 +11
National Democratic Party NDP 65,654 23.97 16 –10
National Party of Suriname NPS 32,390 11.82 3 +1
General Liberation and Development Party ABOP 24,928 9.01 8 +3
Pertjajah Luhur PL 16,673 6.09 2 –3
Reform and Renewal Movement HVB 7,417 2.71 0 New
Brotherhood and Unity in Politics BEP 6,823 2.49 2 0
Alternative 2020 A20 4,502 1.64 0 New
Party for Democracy and Development through Unity DOE 2,388 0.87 0 –1
Party for Law and Development–Amazon Party PRO/APS 1,577 0.58 0 0
Surinamese Labour Party SPA 929 0.34 0 0
Progressive Workers' and Farmers' Union PALU 808 0.29 0 –1
STREI! STREI 690 0.25 0 New
Democratic Alternative '91 DA'91 668 0.24 0 0
People's Party for Renewal and Democracy VVD 348 0.13 0 0
Social Democratic Union SDU 256 0.09 0 New
The New Wind DNW 74 0.03 0 New
Invalid/blank votes 432
Total 274,381 100 51 0
Registered voters/turnout 383,333 71.58
Source: Consulytic

Seats by districtEdit

ABOP BEP NDP NPS PL VHP Total
Brokopondo 1 1 1 3
Commewijne 1 1 2 4
Coronie 2 2
Marowijne 2 1 3
Nickerie 1 4 5
Para 1 2 3
Paramaribo 2 5 3 7 17
Saramacca 1 2 3
Sipaliwini 2 1 1 4
Wanica 1 1 5 7
Total 8 2 16 3 2 20 51

AftermathEdit

On 28 May, it was announced that VHP and ABOP had started negotiations for a coalition government, and it is likely that the NPS will be included.[23] The PL also expressed interest. The coalition of the four parties would have 33 seats (a majority) in the National Assembly. However, the election of the country's President requires a two-thirds supermajority in the Assembly, meaning the coalition would either need one other legislator from the NDP or BEP to cooperate in order to elect the coalition's choice, or would need to put forward a nominee acceptable to at least one of the other two parties.

On 30 May, it was announced that a coalition had been formed consisting of VHP, ABOP, NPS, and PL. VHP leader Chan Santokhi announced his candidacy for President of Suriname, and ABOP leader Ronnie Brunswijk will be the coalition's candidate for Chairman of the National Assembly.[24] Other positions allocated under the agreement include Vice-Chairman of the National Assembly and governor of the Central Bank of Suriname for the VHP, Minister of Home Affairs and Minister of Social Affairs for PL, and Minister of Education and Minister of Oil and Gas Affairs for the NPS. ABOP will receive a nomination for Vice President of Suriname, as well as the following positions: Minister of Justice and Police, Minister of Trade, Industry & Tourism and Minister of Natural Resources and Regional Development. The remaining ministerial posts will go to the VHP.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Convicted Suriname president says will seek re-election France24, 3 December 2019
  2. ^ Electoral system IPU
  3. ^ "Eerlijke verkiezingen in Suriname?". Suriname Herald (in Dutch). Retrieved 22 May 2020.
  4. ^ "PRO en APS leggen basis voor samenwerken". Star Nieuws (in Dutch). Retrieved 22 May 2020.
  5. ^ "PRO stelt kandidatenlijst open voor APS". De Ware Tijd (in Dutch). 24 March 2020. Retrieved 22 May 2020.
  6. ^ Hoever, Naomi (4 April 2020). "Partijen gaan lijstverbinding aan op weg naar kandidaatstelling" (in Dutch). De Ware Tijd. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  7. ^ Kuipers, Ank (29 November 2019). "Suriname President Bouterse convicted of murder for 1982 executions". Reuters. Retrieved 28 May 2020.
  8. ^ "NOVA – detail – Nieuws – Hoge raad bevestigt veroordeling bouterse". novatv.nl. Archived from the original on 2013-10-05. Retrieved 2012-06-09.
  9. ^ "DESI BOUTERSE AND SHAHEED ROGER KHAN ACTIVITIES (C-AL6-00586)". 23 June 2006 – via Wikileaks.
  10. ^ "Suriname". CIA World Factbook. Central Intelligence Agency. 2019. Archived from the original on 2 July 2019. Retrieved 2 July 2019.
  11. ^ "Schuldenlast Suriname in vier jaar bijna verdubbeld". StarNieuws (in Dutch). 16 April 2020. Retrieved 4 June 2020.
  12. ^ a b c Helgouach, Jocelyne; Franck, Fernandes (9 April 2020). "Surinam and the Covid-19 epidemic, a question mark horizon". FranceInfo (in French). France TV. Retrieved 4 June 2020.
  13. ^ "Peiling: Maakt u zich zorgen over de vele schulden die Suriname zal moeten aflossen?". Dagblad Suriname (in Dutch). 13 May 2020. Retrieved 4 June 2020.
  14. ^ "US$ 100 miljoen aan kasreserve gebruikt; SBV misleid". StarNieuws (in Dutch). 30 January 2020. Retrieved 4 June 2020.
  15. ^ "Surinamers betogen tegen president Bouterse om financiële chaos". Het Parool (in Dutch). 17 February 2020. Retrieved 4 June 2020.
  16. ^ "Openbaar Ministerie Vraagt DNA om Hoefdraad in Staat Van Beschuldiging te Stellen". UnitedNews (in Dutch). 23 April 2020. Retrieved 4 June 2020.
  17. ^ "IDB verwacht scherpe economische terugval Suriname" (in Dutch). De Ware Tijd. 18 April 2020. Retrieved 4 June 2020.
  18. ^ "Eerste coronageval in Suriname" (in Dutch). De Ware Tijd. 13 March 2020. Retrieved 4 June 2020.
  19. ^ Thomas, Vishmohanie (13 March 2020). "Suriname sluit vanaf middernacht grenzen voor reizigers". Suriname Herald (in Dutch). Retrieved 4 June 2020.
  20. ^ Van Der Mee, Tonny (28 May 2020). "Oppositie Suriname: 'Kleinzoon Bouterse nam dozen uit stembureau mee'". Het Parool (in Dutch).
  21. ^ Thomas, Vishmohanie. "Bindend verklaren verkiezingen pas over twee weken". Suriname Herald (in Dutch). Retrieved 29 May 2020.
  22. ^ "Nieuwe covid-besmettingen leggen Suriname lam". nos.nl (in Dutch). Retrieved 2020-06-01.
  23. ^ "Onderhandelingen nieuwe coalitie begonnen". De Ware Tijd (in Dutch). Retrieved 29 May 2020.
  24. ^ "Breaking: Santokhi president en Brunswijk DNA-voorzitter". Star Nieuws (in Dutch). Retrieved 30 May 2020.

External linksEdit