No political will for national unity
With the Congress of the PNCR now just days away, we can expect some amount of grandstanding and histrionics from those who are looking to impress at this event.
Candidates will have to “big up” selves, in order to look good in front of delegates who will be expecting that the main opposition party will use its clout in parliament to provide real opposition to the government.
Many out there are deluded by the idea that the combined opposition has a majority of one in the National Assembly. They cannot seem to reconcile this reality with the fact that legislative power is not executive power.
As if to lend credibility to this delusion, tough talk at this time will be the name of the game, especially since there is political capital to be derived from such talk.
Congress is an opportunity to marshal your membership and hype support for the party. As such, tough talk is not unusual at this time and the Congress may end up being a contest over who can talk the toughest.
However, this tough talk goes against the grain of what is being called for: a government of national unity. How can national unity be achieved in the language of confrontation?
How can national unity be achieved when nothing is being done to reduce political acrimony, especially in the run-up to the elections.
The PNCR has long claimed that it is interested in a government of national unity. It has long said that the PPP is going to be part of the composition of this government. In the past there was even a formula for such unity.
Unfortunately the record of APNU and the PNCR since November 28 tells a different story. APNU has not been interested in political conciliation. APNU and the AFC have been keen to demonstrate the extent to which they can use their majority of one to frustrate executive action.
Since November 28, the opposition has been the one who has been frustrating political consensus, instead of the government. They have been keen to show off their new found power of one, including slashing Budgets in a time when the economy is booming and when spending should be increased to further boost economic growth.
APNU, of which the PNCR is the major partner, has spurned political conciliation with the government. It also allowed narrow political considerations to get in the way of talks which were progressing quite satisfactory. As such, the track record of APNU and the PNCR leaves much to be desired. Only lip service is being given to political consensus and conciliation.
In this regard, however, the government is not blameless. It too has made its own mistakes, terrible mistakes, especially in the way in treated the opposition when it came to discussion on the Budget. However, given the fact that the government has always been open to engagements and even went as far as answering all their questions and making public all the controversial agreements that were signed by the previous administration, the opposition should have seen the wisdom in being far more trustworthy.
If the record is closely examined, the minority opposition under the previous administration made more progress than the present majority opposition has made with the present government. And this is despite the present government being far more open and willing to talk than the previous government. This says a great deal about the sort of politics that the combined opposition has been pursuing.
While they urgently need to get their political compasses set in the right direction, things are not likely to improve soon. The present crisis in Linden unfortunately has come at an inopportune time when both of the main opposition parties are trying to outshine each other in the run up to their respective congresses.
For the PNCR, it also occurs at a time when there is contest for the leadership of the party. Interestingly, this time there are no primaries. Apparently, this aspect which was given so much prominence in the contest to choose a presidential candidate for the PNCR, has been suddenly forgotten. But the contestants were given an opportunity to make their case to the respective party groupings.
Whatever the outcome, it is not likely that the stance adopted by both APNU and the PNCR is going to change overnight. On the other hand, there will be the usual talk about national unity. But in practice not much success will be had because there is no real political will to push for national unity, not when the combined opposition continues to delude itself about its majority of one.