Parliamentary General Elections were held in Suriname on 23 May 1996 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.
The 1996 elections pitted incumbent President of the Republic Runaldo Venetiaan and the ruling New Front (NF) coalition against Mr. Desi Bouterse and his National Democratic Party (NDP). Much of the latter's campaign debate concerned the economic austerity measures of the structural adjustment programme of the Venetiaan administration.
When polling results gave the most seats to the governing alliance, the New Front for Democracy and Development (an alliance of the National Party of Suriname, the Progressive Reform Party, the Party for National Unity and Solidarity and the Surinamese Labour Party), with 24 of the 51 seats.
Mr. Bouterse - who headed Suriname's military regime in the 1980's - alleged fraud and a lack of free and fair conditions. Subsequently, the New Front disintegrated and realignments by other alliances produced a new breakdown of Assembly seats, with 29 under the control of the coalition led by the right-wing NDP.
On 6 September, Mr. Jules Wijdenbosch (NDP) was elected President of the Republic by the National Assembly. He appointed a new coalition Government on 20 September; it is headed by the Vice-President, Mr. P. Radhakishun.
Voter turnout was 66.66%.