Independence of APNU, non-PNCR members restricted by recall legislation
…akin to Granger dangling ‘Sword of Damocles’ – Gail Teixeira
Presidential Advisor on Governance and Chief Whip for the People’s Progressive Party /Civic
Gail Teixeira says that the independence of the ranks in the 10-party coalition of A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) will be muzzled by the Opposition Leader.
She was at the time expounding on the fact that the Leader of the Opposition David Granger holds the proverbial ‘Sword of Damocles’ over the Members of Parliament from the other nine parties and that they will have to ‘toe the line’ when it comes to their presentations in the House.
Granger emerged as the Presidential Candidate of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) in the run up to the November 28th Regional and General Elections, but was also made presidential candidate of the 10-party coalition, APNU.
It was pointed out that each of the members of the APNU coalition would have entered with an individual ideology but will have to stay true to the PNCR’s agenda or be subject to the recall legislation which leaves a party at the mercy of its list representative.
Teixeira reminded that the recall legislation is based on political party unity, and hinged on the Proportional Representation (PR) system.
She said that in the absence of a PR system which resorts to ‘first past the post’ then it would be up to the electorate to recall a Member of Parliament, “because it’s the individual going up even on a party name.”
Teixeira told this publication that in Guyana’s case where there is the PR system there is the recall option.
This, she said, is something that the People’s Progressive Party had been advocating for, given the high rate of persons “jumping ship” and crossing over to the PNCR while it was in power.
She said that it is ironic that when the PNCR began to have its internal problems “they were very anxious to bring recall legislation.”
Teixeira opined that any alliance, such as in the case with APNU, “will have those issues to confront…it is the head of the list that calls for the recall.”
She drew reference to a point which was raised by former Speaker Ralph Ramkarran on the issue of recall.
Raphael Trotman is the speaker of the House and he is also the list representative for the Alliance for Change, meaning that in the current configuration, should the AFC want to recall one of its MPs, then Trotman as leader of the list will essentially have to indicate the move to himself as Speaker of the House.
She says that in terms of muzzling, each party has its own way of addressing discipline, but it is even more complicated in an alliance such as APNU.
“Yes I think it can (muzzle) especially if you are dependent on the alliance for your seat in Parliament.”
Teixeira reminded that individually some of the parties in APNU’s alliance would not have been able to secure a seat in the House.
She did caution that while muzzle might be a strong word to describe the potential of the recall legislation “at least it would keep them in line.”
The Alliance for Change is on record as saying that had it won the Executive Presidency it would have repealed the recall legislation supported by the PNCR and PPP/C.
The Party leader touted greater accountability of the Parliamentarians to his constituents.
To date, James McCallister, formerly of the People’s National Congress Reform, has been the only victim of the recall legislation after the then Opposition Leader Robert Corbin had declared that the party had lost confidence in McCallister and asked that the seat be vacated.
While the PNCR constitutes the largest bloc of APNU, there are members from other parties such as Keith Scott of the National Front Alliance and Maipaul Sharma of the Justice For All Party and Desmond Trotman of the Working People’s Alliance among others.