The missing link in the election campaign

November 17, 2011 | By | Filed Under Features / Columnists, Freddie Kissoon 

Open the newspapers on any day since the election campaign started and you will see some kind of delivery by the Government either to the entire population or some section of the society. It is going on non-stop.
One of the opposition parties, the AFC has interpreted it as bribery and opined that it is a violation of the code that the contesting parties signed.
Five years ago, prior to the 2001 election, I used the term “peaking” to refer to a type of election campaign the ruling party had carefully planned. Peaking is the process whereby the Government deliberately holds back on the completion of projects to time the final stage to coincide with the election.
Peaking of course is different from actual generosity that flows from Government during the election season. But they resemble each other in that they serve the same purpose – to induce citizens to see the ruling party in a favourable light that will cause them to vote for it.
Some examples of peaking include the Olympic Pool. Strange that it came to fruition right in the middle of the campaign season. Then there are the new squash and tennis courts complex at Camp Road and Woolford Avenue.
Construction on a large, two-storied police building at Young Street and Camp Road suddenly came to a halt two years ago and from thereon looked like an abandoned shack. It has suddenly risen from the dead and is ready to be used.
Money is being distributed all over the place. Recipients include a group of disabled citizens, the flood victims earlier this year in Rupununi and farmers all over the territory of Guyana. Then came the salary increase announcement normally delivered at the beginning of the second week in December. There is much publicity given to two Chinese ferries that are on their way.
Only a barefacedly dishonest person would see no connection between these constantly rising deliveries at the end of October and beginning of November as unrelated to the election scheduled on November 28.  Let us leave out, for the time being, any analysis of whether such a policy brings electoral gains and look at the logic involved.
There isn’t a serious politician from the PPP, AFC and APNU who do not know which area in Guyana carries most voters and if there is a huge turnout in that district for a particular party then that group will win.
That spot is Georgetown with a massive electorate. Enter the world of common sense. If I want to win the election in November and I think peaking will help then logically the strongest expression of peaking should be the colossal clean up of Georgetown. Again I stress that this is common sense.
How many votes do you think I will get from sharing out money in Rupununi and opening an Olympic-sized pool as against a phenomenal attempt at capital restoration in Georgetown? For every vote you will get in Rupununi, you will get a thousand more in Georgetown.
Let’s say all the people that will benefit from the squash courts will vote for the incumbent party, how much ballots will those add up to as against a strategy of Georgetown restoration which is likely to give you a prodigious number of votes?
My interpretation is that peaking and the distribution of generosity as a strategy to win votes by the PPP lacks common sense. It simply does not make sense. And for one reason only – Georgetown has more voters than elsewhere in Guyana and Georgetown is a putrid, rat-infested, smelly, dangerously unhygienic jungle that possible makes it the most stink capital city in the world.
If you clean up Georgetown then, you are strategizing in the same way as you are currently doing with the policy of peaking.
With just two weeks to go, any salvage operation in Georgetown beginning in the next week will be too late to influence voters. The exercise will be tremendously large because the capital is unimaginably dirty and rotten.
So why wasn’t it done before, say in September, since the President was the one to announce the date of the election and he had to know it would have been in at the end of November?
The most brilliant philosopher in the world would not be able to understand the inscrutable minds inside Freedom House that unfortunately administer the affairs of state. But they may be a rational explanation after all. Georgetowners don’t vote in large numbers so why bother to try and fool them.
Not this time. Not from what I see. Georgetowners will vote in countless numbers.

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