Home Letters Guyanese prefer incumbent in Aruba election
Aruba goes to the polls to choose a national assembly on September 22. Aruba, like Guyana, has a unicameral legislature of 21 seats. And, like Guyana, the entire island is one constituency, with a proportional representation electoral system. Seats are awarded to parties based on percentage of votes obtained. There are several parties, but only two parties are likely to win seats. Two parties have been dominating the electoral politics – the ruling AVP (green colour), which has governed for the last eight years; and the opposition MEP (yellow), which governed between 2005 and 2009.
The current head of Government, the Prime Minister, is Michiel “Mike” Godfried Eman. He led the AVP to victory in 2009. In an informal survey I conducted last week, he remains very popular among immigrants, and even local Aruban voters. Guyanese of all ethnicities are very grateful to him. He has a high approval rating based on people I surveyed. He was reportedly involved in some issues, drawing the ire of voters who were critical of him. But voters say he has done a lot of positive things for the island, including job creation. Every adult Guyanese is employed on the island, and enjoying a relatively high standard of living, similar to the US or Canada. Their income is almost ten times that of Guyana, and many of them regularly visit the US or Canada, where they have relatives. They also routinely come to Guyana to visit families and friends.
The Aruban economy has grown under Prime Minister Eman. And tourism, the mainstay of the economy, has been steady. He has been kind to immigrants, allowing them to obtain working papers, and regularising their status. And Guyanese have done quite well under his tenure. Their quality of life has gone up. Most Indo and Mixed Guyanese have become home owners. They work very hard, save their money, and purchase land and build a house. They and Filipinos have the highest percentage of home ownership among all ethnic groups. The Filipinos, Chinese and Guyanese engage in home gardening, a practice they brought from Guyana. Other ethnic groups in Aruba are not into kitchen gardening.
The opposition is not viewed as a credible alternative, although it has an attractive platform on education, health, and jobs. Voters don’t trust it because of the errors of governance between 2005 and 2009.
Guyanese and other Anglophone immigrants (Jamaicans, Dominicans, Kittitians, etc.) say they like Eman and want him to win. Spanish-speaking immigrants (Dominican Republic, Venezuelans, etc.) like the opposition. The incumbent Eman has the edge to retain office for an unprecedented third term.