Caribbean elections: January 2010
I don’t cover elections in small Caribbean islands, mostly because they have very small and largely unknown political setups and very little is known by the western media community about these elections (though granted, they don’t know much about any foreign elections). Two elections took place in the Caribbean this past month: on January 22 in the Netherlands Antilles and on January 25 in Saint Kitts and Nevis.
The Netherlands Antilles, composed of two major island groups; the Leeward Islands — Bonaire and Curaçao and the Windward Islands — are Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Maarten; are self-governing in domestic affairs since 1954, but the entity is scheduled to disband when Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba become Dutch municipalities while Curaçao and St. Maarten become independent countries within the Netherlands, like Aruba.
Each island has its own political parties, but Curaçao parties dominate due to the island’s larger population. In Curaçao, the centrist Party for the Restructured Antilles, currently in power, won an additional seat for a total of 6 seats against 5 for the centre-left New Antilles Movement. The pro-independence Sovereign People party won 2 seats. In St. Maarten, the National Alliance has won the island’s 3 seats. In Bonaire, the Bonaire Patriotic Union won 2 seats against one for the Bonaire Democratic Party. In smaller St. Eustatius and Saba, the Democratic Party Sint Eustatius and the Windwards Islands People’s Movement respectively won their islands’ sole seat.
Saint Kitts and Nevis
Saint Kitts and Nevis, the smallest sovereign state in North America, independent since 1983, held elections for eleven members in its 15-seat legislature, the other four include three nominated members (called Senators and nominated by the Governor General) and one ex-officio member (the Attorney General). The centre-left Saint Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKLP), led by Prime Minister Denzil Douglas, has been in power since 1995 and was re-elected in 2000 and 2004. The opposition is led by the conservative Peoples’ Action Movement (PAM), which under Prime Minister Kennedy Simmonds ruled the islands between 1983 and 1995. The island of Nevis, which is smaller and with an historical tendency to oppose the stronger federal power in Saint Kitts (it attempted to secede in 1998), has two political parties; the Concerned Citizens’ Movement and the Nevis Reformation Party, both of which originally supported independence for Nevis.
The opposition’s campaign was mostly a campaign for change, focusing on corruption, cost of living and crime as well as the nation’s mounting foreign debt.
Saint Kitts and Nevis Labour Party 46.96% winning 6 seats (-1)
People’s Action Movement 32.24% winning 2 seats (+1)
Concerned Citizens’ Movement 10.99% winning 2 seats (nc)
Nevis Reformation Party 9.75% winning 1 seat (nc)
The SKLP lost one seat and 3.6% of the vote nationally, but Douglas won re-election with 91.4% in his constituency and PAM leader Lindsay Grant failed in his attempt to win a seat by only 29 votes. A change of a bit more than 700 votes in Saint Kitts in three constituencies would have given the PAM 5 seats to Labour’s 3 seats though Labour would still have won the most votes.