Aruba's ruling party keeps majority in election

/ Source: The Associated Press

Aruba’s ruling party kept its majority in parliament in legislative elections for all 21 seats, election board officials reported on Saturday.

Prime Minister Nelson Uduber’s People’s Electoral Movement party won 43 percent of the vote and won 11 seats in Friday’s parliamentary election, while the main opposition Aruban People’s Party won 33 percent and now has eight seats in parliament.

The ruling party had held a 12-6 majority over the main opposition in the single-house legislature.

The Patriotic Movement of Aruba and the Real Democratic Party won one seat each in the election. The remaining five parties did not win legislative seats.

Voter turnout was at 85 percent, according to the board of elections.

Irrelevant to the election
Aruba has recently been in the spotlight as the tourist haven where 18-year-old Alabama resident Natalee Holloway went missing on May 30, but her case was not the focus of election debate in Aruba where violent crime is rare.

On Friday, Oduber described Holloway’s disappearance as a tragedy, but he also called it an isolated issue that was irrelevent to the election.

Oduber, whose government has held power since 2001, has touted his administration’s progress in repaying a $477.5 million debt that it inherited.

“We will continue to upgrade our tourist industry and we will concentrate on having a balanced budget by 2009,” Oduber said early Saturday after his victory was assured.

A record nine parties were competing for parliamentary seats, an indication, observers said, that Arubans wanted change and were frustrated over stagnant wages and growing inflation.

Parliament has fought for months over raising the minimum wage, which has not been adjusted in five years. Lawmakers are expected to vote next year on a proposal to raise the wage from $685 a month to $762 a month.