Curacao is an island country situated in the south Caribbean Sea, about 40 miles north of the coast of Venezuela. It is also a territorial country of the Netherlands. The country includes the main island of Curacao and the island of Klein Curacao, which cover a combined total area of 171 square miles. Curacao has a population of approximately 150,000 inhabitants. Until the Netherlands Antilles was dissolved in October 2010, the country was one of its island territories and was governed as the “Island Territory of Curacao.” Currently, Curacao is administered by an independent government established by the people of Curacao and is fully autonomous in most matters, except those outlined in the Charter for the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
Government of Curacao
Curacao's government is a parliamentary representative democracy, and is based on premises such as the right to form a political party, freedom of press, and freedom of association. The politics reflect a country that has experienced a series of conflicts between major immigrant groups. Curacao is a multi-party state with federal and territorial levels of government. The federal or central government has three branches, namely the executive, legislature, and judiciary, and is responsible for state affairs. The territorial or island government is responsible for territorial affairs.
Executive Branch of the Government of Curacao
The executive power is held by the governor, prime minister, and cabinet. The governor represents the king of the Netherlands, and is appointed by the king to a maximum of two six-year terms. The governor is not part of the cabinet and has no political responsibilities, but plays an important role in the formation of the cabinet. The prime minister and deputy prime minister are elected to four-year terms by the Staten. The prime minister chairs the cabinet, is responsible for the formulation of government policies, and advises both the governor and king on the country's affairs. The prime minister, in consultation with the governor, appoints ministers to the various cabinet positions.
Legislative Branch of the Government of Curacao
Legislative power rests with the Parliament and government. The legislature, referred to as Estates of Curacao, is made up of 21 members who are elected to four-year terms by popular vote. The parliament was established in October 2010 upon the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles. The Parliament is chaired by the speaker, who is also a member of parliament. The speaker guides parliamentary sessions and receives bills from the executive for debate.
Judicial Branch of the Government of Curacao
Curacao’s judicial system is derived from the Dutch civil law system. The judiciary operates independently of the other two arms of government. Curacao has a court of the first instance and a court of appeals. The court of appeals, known as the Joint Court of Justice, is also shared with other territories of the Netherlands in the Caribbean. Rulings of the court of appeal are final and cannot be appealed further. However, fundamental questions about the law can be submitted to the Supreme Court of the Netherlands.