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Nationale Assemblee (National Assembly)

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Parliament name (generic / translated) Nationale Assemblee / National Assembly
Structure of parliament Unicameral
Dates of election / renewal (from/to) 25 May 2010
Purpose of elections Elections were held for all the seats in the National Assembly on the normal expiry of the members' term of office.
On 6 October 2009, President Ronald Venetiaan announced that parliamentary elections would be held on 25 May 2010. A newly elected National Assembly would elect the country's President. Mr. Venetiaan, a 73-year old veteran politician serving his third term as President, said he would not run again.

Suriname is one of the smallest countries in South America. Its population of 519,000 is around 37 percent Hindustani (descendents of Indian immigrants), 31 per cent Creole, 15 per cent Javanese, and 10 per cent Maroon (descendants of former slaves). Most political parties are ethnic-based. Mr. Venetiaan's New Front for Democracy and Development (NF) includes his National Party of Suriname (which draws on the Creole community for support), the Pertjajah Luhur Party (PLP, a Javanese party) and the Progressive Reform Party (VHP, a Hindustani party).

No party secured a majority in the previous elections (May 2005). President Venetiaan's NF took 23 of the 51 seats at stake. The National Democratic Party (NDP, not based on ethnicity), led by former military ruler Desi Bouterse, more than doubled its representation to 15 seats. The Coalition for People's Alliance for Prosperity (VVV) of former president Jules Wijdenbosh and A Combination (A-Com) of former rebel leader Ronnie Brunswijk took five seats each. Mr. Brunswijk had fought against Mr. Bouterse during the Bush War in 1986.

In July 2005, the National Assembly failed twice to elect a president after candidates failed to secure the necessary two-thirds majority (34 votes). Pursuant to the Surinamese Constitution, the United People's Assembly (a body representing district and regional councils) was convened in August and re-elected Mr. Venetiaan as president.

Since the 2005 elections, President Venetiaan's administration has been rocked by numerous scandals related to land grants reportedly involving several cabinet ministers and PLP officials.

In July 2008, the trial began of Mr. Bouterse and 24 others allegedly involved in the killing of 15 opposition leaders in 1982 under the former's military regime. It had not been concluded by the 2010 elections. If convicted, Mr. Bouterse faces a 20-year prison sentence. He was also sentenced to 11 years in prison by a Dutch court for drug smuggling in 1999, but has not been sent to the Netherlands because a treaty between the two countries prohibits extradition.

In March 2010, the PLP announced that it would not run for the 2010 elections on its own. PLP leader and outgoing Speaker, Mr. Paul Somohardjo, was eyeing the presidency but the NF had reportedly backed the incumbent Vice-President Ram Sardjoe, VHP leader. Mr. Somohardjo argued that his PLP would be able to win at least 10 seats while the NF gave it only nine slots in its joint candidate list. He subsequently formed a new party, the People's Alliance (VA), comprising small ethnic Javanese parties.

In the 2010 elections, in which eight parties were running, President Venetiaan's NF was challenged by the Mega Combination. The latter comprised Mr. Bouterse's NDP, the New Suriname (NU), the Palu party (a left-wing party) and the Indonesian Peasant's Party (KTPI). Mr. Bouterse was widely expected to become the country's new president if there was no clear majority in parliament, since his camp held 567 of the 919 seats in the United People's Assembly.

The NF ran on the government's record. Vice-President Sardjoe called on voters to support the NF as the only party offering economic development to improve the people's lives. Justice Minister Chandrikapersad Santokhi pledged to lead a "clear stable future" that would encourage Surinamese abroad to return. Many NF candidates referred to the military regime led by Mr. Bouterse and urged voters to support the NF so as to prevent a return to "repression and disastrous policies".

President Venetiaan said that the NF would not form a new government with Mr. Bouterse because of his ongoing court case and the role he had played in overthrowing the government in 1980.

Mr. Bouterse said he would seek the presidency if his Mega Combination won enough seats in the elections. His opponents claimed that his bid for the presidency was a way to avoid imprisonment and grant amnesty to all those involved in the 1982 killings. The Mega Combination promised to create more jobs and affordable housing. It was reportedly gaining support among young voters, who make up 60 per cent of the electorate and are not old enough to remember the period of military rule.

A-Com leader Brunswijk also announced that he would seek the presidency but did not rule out possible cooperation with Mr. Bouterse in the new government.

73.21 per cent of the 324,000 registered voters turned out at the polls.

The observer team of the Organization of American States (OAS) said the elections were marked by the country's "civility, professionalism and democratic commitment". It nevertheless recommended that the Election Commission provide greater assistance to persons with disabilities. The CARICOM observers said the elections had been free and fair.

The final results gave 23 seats to the Mega Combination. The NF came in second with 14 seats. A-Com and the VA took seven and six seats respectively. The Party for Democracy and Development through Unity (DOE, a Christian party) won its first seat in parliament. Five women were elected.

The newly elected parliament comprised 17 Hindustani, 11 Creole, nine Javanese, 10 Maroon, two Amerindians and two Chinese members. In all, 31 candidates (60.78 per cent) were elected to the National Assembly for the first time.

On 30 June, the newly elected National Assembly held its first session and elected Ms. Jennifer Geerlings-Simons (Mega Combination) as its new Speaker and Ms. Ruth Wijdenbosch of the National Party of Suriname as Deputy Speaker.

On 19 July, the National Assembly elected Mr. Bouterse (Mega Combination) as the country's new President. His candidature was supported by his Mega Combination, A-Com and the VA.

On 12 August, Mr. Bouterse was officially sworn in as the country's President. He subsequently formed a coalition government comprising the parties which supported him in the indirect presidential elections.
Voter turnout
Round no 125 May 2010
Number of registered electors
Blank or invalid ballot papers
Valid votes
237'575 (73.21%)

Distribution of votes
Round no 1
Political Group Candidates Votes %
Mega Combination 95'543 40.22
New Front for Democracy and Development (NF) 75'190 31.65
A Combination 11'176 4.70
People's Alliance (VA) 30'844 12.98
Party for Democracy and Development through Unity (DOE) 12'085 5.09
Distribution of seats
Round no 1
Political Group Total
Mega Combination 23
New Front for Democracy and Development (NF) 14
A Combination 7
People's Alliance (VA) 6
Party for Democracy and Development through Unity (DOE) 1
Distribution of seats according to sex
Percent of women
Distribution of seats according to age
21 to 30 years
31 to 40 years
41 to 50 years
51 to 60 years
61 to 70 years
Over 70 years
Distribution of seats according to profession
Civil service and local authority administration 17
Education profession 12
Legal profession 9
Entrepreneur 6
IT/technology 6
Civil society activity 5
Physician, dentist 3
Economist 2
Others 2
Journalism, broadcasting, media 2
Armed services/Police 1
Nursing 1
National Assembly (08.06.2010, 31.03.2011, 05.01.2012)

Note on the distribution of votes:
The statistics above indicate the number and percentage of votes won by each political party/coalition at the national level. Since the seats are distributed by constituency, a party which obtained a lower percentage of votes nationwide can nevertheless end up with a higher number of seats.

Note on "Distribution of seats according to profession"
Some members have listed more than one primary occupation.

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