The new President of Guyana has been quick to dismiss reports that he is seeking to hold snap elections. He has said that he has not given thought to this matter.
In a society notorious for political speculation and conjecture, it was not surprising to learn that some persons felt that the PPP/C was so confident that it can win a majority in an election that it was heading in the direction of a snap poll.
Some members of the Opposition feel that this is not likely to happen. They put forward a number of plausible reasons.
Firstly, it was pointed out that in Guyana, there are term limits. A person is only entitled to two elected terms as President. They contend that the incumbent President would not risk reducing his potential tenure by going back to the polls which would mean that he would not be able to serve for more than five more years. Why do this when you can serve two five-year terms?
There is considerable merit in this view because no President who only has two terms would wish to enter into new elections so soon unless this was forced upon him.
The problem, of course, is that if the President finds that he is not being allowed to function, then he would have no choice but to call snap elections. Thus, if the government is frustrated by the opposition, it will go to the polls.
Another political leader has said that he does not believe that the President will call snap elections because logistically this cannot happen immediately. Holding of a new election requires that registration be reopened and that the Elections Commission be in a state of readiness. These things, it is contended, will take some time to put in place. It does. Elections cannot be simply called tomorrow. There are steps to be followed and this requires time.
To hold fresh elections also requires money. Another leader says that the government will need a few billion dollars. He was adamant that he was not going to approve any funds for snap polls In effect, he was making the point that since the Opposition controls the purse strings in the National Assembly, then the opposition will have to approve of the funds to hold an election.
His party would not support this and he feels that the other Opposition party would do likewise. As such no snap election can be held because the funds would not be made available.
The fact of the matter, however, is that the government can advance the funds for the holding of the elections to GECOM and then if and when it wins the elections and seizes a majority in the National Assembly, it can go back to Parliament for supplementary approval.
This political leader therefore had better not get too confident in the knowledge that he holds the decisive vote when it comes to the holding of any snap elections. There are lawful ways in which GECOM can be given the funds to hold such an election.
That same political leader also feels that the President will not call snap elections because he is confident of discovering oil within the next two years and will want to reap the benefits of this discovery. Again here this suggestion is off track. The President does not need the discovery of oil to boost his popularity.
The economy of Guyana is in its best shape ever and based solely on the performance of the economy over the past nineteen years, the PPP/C should be able to gain a majority in any snap election.
The PPPC failed to gain that majority because in the main its supporters were over-confident and did not go out in their numbers to vote.
But the events of the past few weeks, and power-hungry maneuvers of the Opposition in the National Assembly have been witnessed. The supporters of the PPPC are seeing what is taking place.
They have witnessed how the AFC abandoned the candidacy of Moses Nagamootoo when it came to the Speaker’s position. They have seen how easy and comfortable the AFC is lying in bed with APNU. They would not have also missed that one of the contingency spending that was torpedoed by the Opposition was funds for the clearance of land to build a hospital.
They are seeing all of these things. And they are going to reject those parties sufficient to give the PPPC the majority that it needs.
The President, however, says that he has not given thought to snap election. The issue has been settled. Or has it? Perhaps he is lulling the opposition into a sense of complacency. Perhaps he is preparing the way for a political surprise. Perhaps he has a trick up his sleeve. Or perhaps not. Those who know him will confirm that he is not that type of man. He is neither cunning nor devious. What you see is what you get! A gentleman!
He has so far been practising the art of gentleman politics, even in the face of the lusting for power by the Opposition within Parliament. But as is well known, there are limits to what any person will accept, especially when he feels that he can easily regain lost ground.