Parliamentary General Elections were held in Suriname on 25 May 2005 for all 51 seats in the National Assembly.
The 51 members in the unicameral National Assembly are elected from 10 constituencies on the basis of a party-list proportional representation system that involves preferential voting. The 10 electoral constituencies are coterminous with the ten administrative districts of Suriname. The National Assembly subsequently elects the President.
After becoming President in 1991 Mr. Venetiaan took serious measures to combat high inflation and volatile exchange rates. Although some of his policies were deemed unpopular they are credited for the stable currency and budget surplus. His main rival Mr. Bouterse appealed to young and poor voters arguing that the NF coalition had not improved people's lives.
Political Parties & Candidates
Of the nine political organizations presenting a toral of 383 candidates for the 25 May 2005 election three were expected to be the main contenders. The NF coalition led by President Ronald Venetiaan the National Democratic Party (NDP) led by former military ruler Mr. Desl Bouterse who dominated the country's political scene in the 1980s and the Coalition for People's Alliance for Prosperity (VVV) of former president Jules Wijdenbosh. These political groups had respectively won 33 seven and 5 seats in the 2000 election. President Venetiaan needed a two-thirds majority (34 votes) in the National Assembly to secure his position.
The polls went off without any serious incidents. Observers from the Organisation of American States (OAS) praised the country for a peaceful and orderly election. Turnout was low due to rain on polling day.
Two parties of international election monitors from the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) were sent to observe the election. The observers from CARICOM congratulated Suriname on the conduct of the election and described the behaviour of the people of Suriname as an example for the Caribbean. The OAS observers also described the election as having been peaceful and having taken place in a friendly atmosphere.
The final results indicated a complex political situation with no party securing a majority. The NF coalition came in first but its number of seats was reduced to 23. The NDP more than doubled its representation to 15 seats while the VVV took five. The A Combination representing the Maroons (descendants of former slaves) entered the Assembly for the first time with five seats. The group is led by Mr. Ronnie Brunswijk a former jungle rebel leader who fought against Mr. Bouterse during the Bush War in 1986. The remaining three seats went to the electoral coalition Alternative-1 (A-1) composed of four parties. After the election one member of the A-1 group (from the DA'91 party) joined the ruling coalition. The two remaining elected members of A-1 joined the opposition.
Members were sworn in on 30 June 2005 and elected Mr. Paul Salam Somohardjo as speaker.
In a parliamentary vote to elect the president on 19 July no candidate secured the necessary two-thirds majority of 34 votes. Mr. Venetiaan obtained 27 votes against 20 for Mr. Parmessar. A second vote on 26 July produced the same result as the first round. Under the Surinamese Constitution the United People's Assembly a 891-member body representing district and regional councils elects the new president when parliament fails to reach an agreement. The regional body therefore convened on 3 August and re-elected Mr. Ronald Venetiaan as president with 560 votes. He was sworn in on 12 August 2005.
Voter turnout was 46.98%.