Suriname is getting a new electoral system and the country’s parliament approved this major change on Friday evening. Until now, the country had a so-called provincial system. Starting in 2025, every vote cast will have equal weight.
The old system was introduced in 1987. Because seats in Parliament were divided based on regions, constituencies with relatively small populations have hitherto been relatively well represented in Parliament. Political parties in sparsely populated areas therefore need significantly fewer votes for one of the 51 national seats than those in more populated areas.
For example, Ronnie Brunswick’s General Liberation and Development Party won eight seats with barely 25,000 votes thanks to this system in 2020. Gregory Rossi’s Suriname National Party won just three seats with more than 32,000 votes.
The Constitutional Court has considered this system in recent years. At the end of 2022, parts of it were found to be in violation of the Surinamese Constitution and international treaties.
The court also stated that the distribution key of the old system was no longer valid, because the population of the regions had changed dramatically in recent decades. According to the court, positive discrimination against remote and backward areas must also be put to an end.
Politics voted on the new system relatively quickly, because preparations for the 2025 elections will begin soon. After the vote on Friday, MPs spoke of a “historic moment”, due to the unity and pace with which political parties worked on changes to the law.
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