Wednesday’s Island Council elections in the Caribbean Netherlands produced some intriguing results. Especially Bonaire’s three-way tie in seats caught the eye, but developments on St. Eustatius and Saba also were exciting, to say the least.
On Bonaire it looked for a long time as though PDB was headed for a solid victory and perhaps even a majority with five of nine seats, but newcomer MPB had a strong finish as the last voting districts were announced and miraculously won that race by 33votes. The fact that the two largest parties cancelled each other out and both ended up earning three seats outright actually allowed UPB to add the sole residual seat to its original two and force a tie in the legislature.
On St. Eustatius a coalition will be needed again, but with no more than two partners. It will be interesting to see whether the two parties with two seats – DP and surprise winner by eight votes PLP – try to find each other or make the more obvious choice for the one-seat UPC. Either way, the Executive Council will require the support of more than one parliamentary fraction at all times.
Saba had the clearest result with WIPM winning a majority as the party has been doing for years. It was therefore notable that SLP grew from one to two of the five seats, making the opposition stronger. It might seem a bit strange, but one can’t escape the impression that SLP leader Ishmael Levenstone announcing his retirement after 50 years in politics actually might have helped the party at the polls. Especially his apparent lack of bitterness over losing so many elections and statement that “win or lose, we must stick together” evoked sympathy. So, while the seats have been divided, the outcome in terms of who will govern the islands very much remains to be seen in two of the three cases, depending on the ensuing negotiations. Even after that it won’t necessarily be final, because elected representatives always can go independent and back others, as they have on numerous occasions in the recent past.