Wiels tops Schotte in Curacao: former social worker in control – Road to independence will set agenda for new cabinet

POSTED: 10/22/12 1:05 PM

St. Maarten / Curacao – The victory of Helmin Wiels’ Pueblo Soberano in Friday’s parliamentary elections has done more than making a return of the MFK-PS-MAN coalition possible. Wiels won 42 percent more votes than he did two years ago, while Schotte’s MFK improved less strong, by 1.56 percent. In other words: the dynamics have changed, and Wiels is now the man to determine the agenda.
The reactions to Friday’s election result were mixed, though in the Netherlands most politicians interpreted the result as a vote for independence. Wiels made a sovereign people his main goal six years ago. He stands for an independent Curacao, outside the framework of the Dutch Kingdom.
Within an hour after it became clear that he would win the elections, Wiels said that Curacao is not ready for independence yet and that it could take another ten years before this next step in the country’s development will be a fact.

The enthusiasm among Dutch politicians for an independent Curacao was almost unreal. “It is up to Wiels to call a referendum. I asked him about it once but he walked away angry,” Socialist Party Ronald van Raak said.
André Bosman (VVD) said that steps have to be taken to establish a timeframe for independence. “The VVD will support this. Even better, we’re hoisting the flag, but it cannot be so that they are saying that they want to be independent without taking steps and in the meantime behave as if the country is independent. As long as Curacao is not independent it has to stick to the agreements that have been made.”
Martijn van Dam (Labor Party) also considers the election result as a choice for independence. “I expect that the new coalition let’s say with PS and MFK, will present a proposal; otherwise Wiels is not credible.”
No one seemed happier with the election result than the Freedom Party – a traditional basher of the former Netherlands Antilles and of the individual islands after the constitutional change. “People have voted for a party that wants complete independence. That is better for the Netherlands and for the Dutch tax payer, because we have already invested far too much money and energy in vain in the island,” MP Sietse Fritsma and party-leader Geert Wilders said in a joint statement. “Somebody who wants to sent Dutch citizens back home in a body-bag and who wants to keep working together with mafia-friend Schotte. We don’t want to have anything to do with that.”
Wassila Hachchi (D66) was the only one with a more careful comment. “Pueblo Soberano is the largest party, but I do not find that you can now conclude just like that that the whole of Curacao wants to become independent.”
Hachchi said that MFK, PAR and Pais are close to Pueblo Soberano in size. She said that the country needs to be governed based on the principles of the constitutional state. As long as Curacao is not independent, the limits that have been agreed upon in the Kingdom are valid, she added. “Parties have to live up to their promises, but within the rules of the Charter.” Hachchi said that she will keep insisting on the proper functioning of democratic institutions like the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the Common Court of Justice and the Governor.
Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations Liesbeth Spies refrained from making a political comment and said that the new cabinet has a heavy task ahead of it. “There are enormous financial and economic problems and the election result shows that the community is strongly divided.”

In Curacao, Wiels said that he is prepared to continue the coalition with MFK and MAN, but on his conditions. He did not elaborate on those conditions yet. “We are forming the coalition to work for the people, not to fill up our pockets,” Wiels, a former social worker, said.
MFK-leader Gerrit Schotte and his former Minister of Economic affairs Nasser Abdul el Hakim favor a continuation of the coalition with Pueblo Soberano and MAN. Schotte did not say too much about the truckload of criticism he has had to endure in the run-up to the elections. “If we want to continue with the same coalition we will have to work towards true unity.”

El Hakim strongly criticized the Dutch-language media in Curacao – the Antilliaans Dagblad and the Amigoe. “They have twisted the truth and they contribute to the discord. They present biased information.”
El Hakim said that Governor Goedgedrag had also contributed to the discord by installing an interim-cabinet. He also said that the Netherlands maintains a grip on Curacao through “political instruments” like the board for financial supervision Cft. El Hakim said that is seems logical that Pueblo Soberano, as the largest party, names the prime minister for a new cabinet.
Winner or not, Pueblo Soberano depends for a majority in the 21-seat parliament still on the cooperation of the smallest coalition-partner – Charles Cooper’s MAN. The party remained steady at two seats. Party-leader Giovanni Atalita said that MAN had to start from scratch after the departure of Eugene Cleopa. “We managed to inform the population properly and to present a good program. We’re in a key position and we intend to make use of it.”

One party and with it one household name disappeared from the political scene on Friday: Anthony Godett’s FOL did not manage to hold on to its lone seat in parliament. With just 1,793 votes Godett most likely paid the price for joining the Group of Twelve that unseated the Schotte-cabinet. A bit more than 3,000 of the voters that supported him in 2010 went elsewhere. Godett announced after the loss that he will leave politics after having served for 25 years.

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