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Populism in the Caribbean; Curacao

The noticeable growth of populism on the island can be explained as part of the process of constitutional reform in the context of decolonization (Millett, 2003). In a constitutional referendum in 2005, 68% of the voters voted for the island to have autonomous status within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. As part of the process PS demanded an additional option on the ballot paper: Curaçao should have the status of Freely Associated State. This entails a transitional stage towards full independence. From that point PS became the main movement in favour of the independence of the island. During the whole process of implementing the preferred option of the majority, namely that Curaçao would be an autonomous country within the Dutch Kingdom, PS opposed the process and the outcome.  The first indication of the strength of the movement was the rejection of the covenant between the Kingdom partners by the Parliament of Curaçao in November 2007 and the subsequent upheaval and social protest. The movement reached a new height during the referendum of 2009, when the arrangements for the new constitutional status were accepted by a slim majority of only 52%. This result indicated that there was great dissatisfaction among the voters with the process, the outcome and the established politicians who were responsible. This dissatisfaction was exploited, and reinforced, by the constant opposition of a number of opposition parties, including the PS. The opposition argued that the constitutional change was a process of re-colonization, because the Netherlands would have a greater say in matters of finance and justice. The members of the coalition were labeled as “bende patria” (sellers of the country). On several occasions there were small but rather violent demonstrations in the streets.

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