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Populism in the Caribbean; Curacao

In August 2010, the MFK of Gerrit Schotte fielded candidates in the elections for the first time. Schotte started his political career in the FOL party, led by Anthony Godett, also a populist in his own right, who obtained 33.9% of the votes in 2003. After wandering around in the political world, Schotte ended up in the MAN party, where he became the main vote winner. After much deliberation about becoming the partyleader, he left the MAN four months before the next elections. Schotte was a proven fundraiser. He ran an aggressive and very personal electoral campaign.

After the election, a coalition of the MFK, PS and MAN was formed with a narrow majority of one seat, like the PAR, FOL and PNP government before it. The three parties combined obtained 49% of the votes but as an effect of the electoral system they still had 11 of the 21 seats. The coalition was formed by the socialist MAN, the more radical left PS and the rightist MFK. It was said that the only unifying factor of the coalition was their resentment of the PAR. The new coalition agreed that the PAR, which they argued represented the elite, should never govern again after staying in powerfor 16 years. The PS claimed that they had a preference for the opposition benches in parliament and that they joined the coalition under pressure to collaborate to keep the PAR out of government. Wiels did not accept a post as a minister in the government headed by Schotte. This is typical of populists (Ramirez, 2009). He headed the party in parliament, criticizing everyone, including his coalition partners and his own ministers. Within a few months he fired four of the ministers of from his own party.

The coalition accommodated their own people in the civil service apparatus[1] and in the state owned companies to an even greater extent than had happened previously. This expansion of the state is also typical of populism (Millett,2003). The civil service was under reconstruction, due to the constitutional change process, and in a way this made it relatively easy to appoint new people.

[1] www.amigoe.com/english/72810-cabinet-chooses-for-political-appointments(Accessed on 27 September 2011)

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