Constitution & governance
Until 10 October 2010 the Netherlands Antilles formed together with Aruba and the Netherlands, the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The Netherlands Antilles, comprising the islands of Curacao, St. Maarten, Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius, was an autonomous country in the Kingdom. After a complex process of dismantling, the Netherlands Antilles ceased to exist as from 10 October 2010. As a result of the dismantling process, Curacao and St. Maarten became independent countries within the Kingdom of the Netherlands and obtained a status similar to the status the island of Aruba already has since 1986. The islands Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius, often referred to as the “BES islands”, transformed into public entities within the country of The Netherlands.
On January 1986, Aruba seceded from the Netherlands Antilles and gained its own “Status aparte” within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Apart from certain affairs that are considered to be affairs of the Kingdom (such as defence, foreign affairs and citizenship), Aruba has full autonomy. The system of government of Aruba is a parliamentary democracy based on the Dutch model and free elections are held every four years. Aruba is a so called associate member of the European Community. The purpose of such association is to promote the economic and social development of Curacao and to establish close economic relations between Aruba and the European Community as a whole.