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Populism in the Caribbean; Curacao

In Curaçao the political spectrum can be described as follows. None of the parties claim to be right wing. Adversaries place the PAR (established in 1993) to the right of centre, but PAR claims to be a Christian party. The FOL and the MAN are established socialist parties.The PNP is one of the oldest political parties, a traditional Christian party. NPA and PS are relatively new parties. They are on the extreme left wing. They are inspired by, among others, President Chavez. The MFK is a brand new political party established in 2010. The programme of the MFK places MFK on the right of the spectrum.

Populism is a part of politics and should be analyzed as part of the election results over the years. All parties are to some degree populist. But the most populist parties today are the PS, NPA, MFK and certain activists in the PAR. In the recent past the FOL was a successful populist party. The populism of the PAR is partly a response to the success of other populist parties.

The rise of modernpopulism in Curaçao

Nelson Pierre’s NPA (Nu’un Paso Atras) was the first to utilize the populist agenda as we now know it in Curaçao. He invented the modus operandi of hosting a daily talk show to in form the people of the wrong doing of what he called ‘the prophets of evil’ and their networks, who rob the poor and create an industry of poverty. He stood for election for the first time in 2003. He received 5.7% of the votes and obtained representation. Pierre went on to participate in a government coalition and became an elected executive.

Very early on, NPA split because of disagreements between Pierre and his colleagues. Pierre is a successful, recovered drug addict. This is often exploited by his adversaries. It is stated that soon after the elections of 2003, Pierre had a relapse and this led to Helmin Wiels, the deputy leader, leaving the NPA and starting Pueblo Soberano (PS).The agenda of PS is very similar to that of the NPA with an emphasis on the independence of the island. Also, the methods, strategy and tactics are the same. The discourse of PS  is a blend of socialism, anti-colonialism, slave heritage or race and Christian religion, with a touch of misogyny and pro-masculinity. PS stood for election for the first time in2006. Both NPA and PS obtained a significant number of votes in 2006 (5.5% and9.8%), but neither of them obtained representation at that time. From then on PS continued to grow and entered the Island Council in 2007, becoming a force to be reckoned with in the opposition. The PS became a governing party in the first government of the new country, Curaçao, on 10 October 2010.

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