Politics of Aruba

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politics and government of

Aruba, a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, takes place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic country, whereby the prime minister is the head of government, and of a multi-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Federal legislative power is vested in both the government and parliament. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature. Aruba has full autonomy on most matters. Exceptions are defence, 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. The governor of Aruba is appointed for a six-year term by the monarch, and the prime minister and deputy prime minister are elected by the Staten (legislature) for four-year terms. The Staten is made up of 21 members elected by direct, popular vote to serve four-year terms.

Aruba's judicial system, which has mainly been derived from the Dutch system, operates independently of the legislature and the executive. Jurisdiction, including appeal, lies with the Common Court of Justice of Aruba and the Netherlands Antilles and the Supreme Court of Justice in the Netherlands.

Political conditions

After a break in the coalition between the ruling Aruban People's Party (Arubaanse Volkspartij, AVP) and the Aruban Liberal Organization (Organisashon Liberal Arubano, OLA), the election of July 1998 was pushed forward to December 1998. The election results were unclear, with no clear mandate for a particular coalition. The People's Electoral Movement (MEP) announced that they preferred a coalition between the large parties, the MEP and the AVP. The message was not clear enough from the MEP side and the negotiations went sluggish. After more than six months of talks, the AVP started negotiations with its previous coalition partner and succeeded to form a weak but stable enough coalition. The MEP remained in the opposition, a place strategically favored by the party leader Nelson (Nel) O. Oduber.

Four years later, in September 2001, the strategy paid off and the MEP won a decisive victory from the opposition. The MEP took 12 of 21 seats to form Aruba's first non-coalition government. The AVP on the other hand lost heavily and retained only six seats. The other coalition partner of the AVP, OLA, retained only one seat. The PPA, which endured two seatless elections, got two seats.

After the 2001 election, the AVP leader, Dr. Robertico (Tico) Croes stepped down as party leader and left politics as the result of the election results. He went on to pursue a career in teaching in the United States at the University of Central Florida.

The AVP underwent a long and arduous restructuring process which included a new party leader, Michiel (Mike) G. Eman, grandson of one of the party founders and consultant of former Prime Minister Henny Eman. In the 2005 elections, the AVP gained seats and remained the largest opposition party.

The MEP, on the other hand lost votes, but managed to only lose a single seat, thus remaining in office after the 2005 elections and still as a non-coalition government.

In these elections, however, the Aruban Patriotic Party (PPA) and OLA parties lost their seats and other lesser known parties, failed to get enough votes for a seat in the Parliament. The DR party did not win a seat by a very narrow margin.

The winning parties (i.e., which gained seats) in the 2005 elections were the MEP, AVP, RED, and the Aruban Patriotic Movement (MPA, which originated from the PPA).

(alph. order)
'01 vs '05
Aruban People's Party (AVP) 10 10 6 8 +2
People's Electoral Movement (MEP) 9 9 12 11 -1
Aruban Patriotic Movement (MPA) n/a n/a n/a 1 n/a
Aruban Liberal Organization (OLA) 2 2 1 0 -1
Aruban Patriotic Party (PPA) 0 0 2 0 -2
Network of Electoral Democracy (RED) n/a n/a n/a 1 n/a
Real Democracy (DR) n/a n/a n/a 0 n/a

After the 2005 elections the PPA all but disappeared from the political scene and the OLA stopped existing after the former leader went bankrupt and lost support from the public after dubious project like the Racetrack, Airport (project that at the end cost twice the original budget) and the intent of selling the local telephone company to a foreign investor, which drew tens of thousands of protesters.

Since 2005 elections, the MEP has been accused by the opposition party and media with allegations of corruption and scandals. One such allegation resulted in the removal of selected authorities (related to naturalization and immigration) from the Minister of Justice (Hiacinto (Rudy) Croes) by means of a protocol signed by three Dutch Ministers and the government of Aruba, which at the end resulted in not being true.

Another scandal, which has not resulted in a conviction is related to the Minister of Labour. The Minister, T. F. (Ramon) Lee, was publicly accused by a female public servant of sexual harassment, however the female public servant went on the air, claiming of a relationship between her and the minister which the Minister also accepted and no charges were ever pressed.

The latest scandal is the result of a bribery letter, the now infamous "Namdar Letter", exposed by an OLA aide, Michael Williams. This case is currently under investigation by the Prosecutor's Office after it was revealed that Michael Williams was the person who requested the "Namdar Letter" in name of the government and former Minister Glembert Croes (OLA). The media in the first instance published the letter accusing the Government of corruption but did not disclosed the date and the names of the people involved which later resulted not being connected to the government.


Executive branch

Main office holders
Office Name Party Since
King King Willem-Alexander 30 April 2013
Governor General Fredis Refunjol 11 May 2004
Prime Minister Mike Eman AVP 1 November 2009

The Governor General is appointed by the monarch for a six-year term.
The Council of Ministers is elected by the Staten.

Parliament building in Oranjestad

Legislative branch

Aruba elects on national level a legislature. The Estates (Staten) have 21 members, elected for a four-year term by proportional representation with a universal suffrage from 18 years of age.

Aruba has a multi-party system, with two or three strong parties and a third party that is electorally successful.

Judicial branch

Joint High Court of Justice (judges are appointed by the monarch)

Political parties and elections

For other political parties, see List of political parties in Aruba. An overview on elections and election results is included in Elections in Aruba.
  Summary of the 25 September 2009 Estates of Aruba election results
Parties Votes % Seats
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
Total 55,125 100.00 21
Source: overheid.aw

International relations

In most international organizations, only sovereign countries are members, and thus Aruba is presented by the Kingdom of the Netherlands. In the organizations like the International Labour Organization, delegations of the general conference are composed of members of the four countries of the Kingdom. Organizations in which Aruba is represented separately are listed below: Caricom (observer), ECLAC (associate),[1] Interpol, IOC, UNESCO (associate), Parlatino, World Confederation of Labour (WCL), WToO (associate) and Caribbean Tourism Organization.


External links

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