Published On: Mon, Sep 5th, 2016

To vote or not to vote

dekker_0The 444 square kilometer island of Curacao is about to vote in Parliamentary elections. 444, is the “Number of the Beast,” Evangelicals warn us. “Electing People’s Rule over God’s hegemony is equal to “Riding the Beast.” Do not vote; they tell their constituencies.

Many island Evangelicals are firm in their belief that they belong to the chosen ones, the 144,00 who will survive the Apocalypse; thus elections can only be a devil’s tool. Others recognize the Church, with the Pope at the pinnacle of its organizational structure, as the only legitimate authority to rule.

Parliamentary elections came with Protestantism, imported by the much hated Dutch traders, who colonized the island for more than 300 years. Making a system with such history popular is hard.

Some islanders may cast their ballots in secret; others prefer to sell their proxy or destroy it all together. Electoral fraud or vote rigging has long been part of the process in the Caribbean.

Full suffrage, the right to vote, is not a highly treasured privilege on the island of Curacao and election time amounts to no more than a pre-carnival Jump-up month.

Nevertheless, candidate eligibility, as part of full suffrage, has become a hot issue of debate after a Judge banned a few convicted politicians unfit to participate in public office, in any way or form. Getting your opposition sentenced as criminals appear to be a smooth way to oust them, as President Maduro of Venezuela is showing the world. Flippant comparisons are made to Hitler, who set the Reichstag on fire, so he could accuse his opposition and send the entire Parliament home.

The Parliamentary system of Curacao is a copy-paste of The Hague, The Netherlands. Very little thought was given to the suitability and workability in the mini-version on a Caribbean island. With all good intentions, the system was imposed top-down.

Whether it was after autonomy of 10-10-10, or as island authority under Dutch rule from 1954, one thing has become very clear, the present Parliamentary system does not function adequately and is unable to deal with the challenges and needs of the island population. The last six years, produced six Prime Ministers and even more Ministers of Education. To get anything done is a nightmare, corruption seems inextinguishable, and nepotism, cronyism, and favoritism rule far over and beyond any Parliamentary decision.

So voting for a defunct system, without any improvement in foresight, seems utterly silly. A multitude of twenty political parties vying for the twenty-one- seat Parliament turns the process even more into a complete charade.

What remains is a full month of great late-summer entertainment, so keep smiling!

By Jacob Gelt Dekker
Opinion columnist for Curaçao Chronicle

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