Key Facts
Freedom House Rating: Free
Government Type: Presidential Republic
Population: 610,000

Upcoming Elections
General: May 2020 (exact date TBC)

Past Elections
General: May 25, 2015

Political Context

The current president, Dési Bouterse, has been a major figure in Suriname politics since 1980, when – five years after Surniname achieved full independence from the Netherlands – he helped lead sergeant’s coup. In 1982, in response to increased calls for a return to civilian rule, the regime murdered 15 prominent opposition activists – the incident, dubbed the December murders, continues to reverberate. In response, the United States and the Netherlands cut aid, and the country went into a downward spiral. In 1987, the military allowed a new constitution and elections, but staged yet another coup in 1990. However, elections eventually returned. 

Bouterse was elected president in 2010 in elections considered to be democratic. Nonetheless, proceedings against him for the December murders continued, and in November 2019, he was ultimately convicted and sentenced to more than 20 years in prison. Nonetheless, he has announced his intention to seek re-election.

Citizens will elect all 51 members of the National Assembly, Suriname’s unicameral legislature, and the legislature then chooses the president. Currently, Bouterse’s leftist National Democratic Party (NDP) holds 26 seats, and a mix of seven opposition parties – many ethnically-based – hold the remaining 25.

Geopolitical Context

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Curated News and Analysis

AP (November 29, 2019): “AP Explains: What awaits Suriname’s convicted president?”

Scott B. MacDonald, CSIS (August 1, 2019): “Suriname at a Crossroads”

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