The opposition has played right into the hands of the government. If the opposition had even the slimmest of chances of coming out successful at this year’s general and regional elections, this would have depended on luring the supporters of the ruling party into a sense of complacency.
The supporters of the PPP are overwhelmingly confident of victory at this year’s elections. Some have even gone as far as saying that it is going to be the easiest victory ever for the ruling party.
They may have reasons to be overconfident. Their main rival did something not usually done in Guyana. They took someone who has not been within the leadership of the PNCR and named that person as their presidential candidate.
Such a move will inevitably create some divisions even though it may not be publicly visible. No party wishes to advertise internal dissent. But while there may not have been any visible signs of divisions, there are bound to be concerns within the party about what has taken place.
Certainly, some individuals that have served within the leadership, long and faithfully, must be asking why it was necessary to have someone who was never part of the leadership of the party to be the party’s presidential candidate. They will question whether they who have been around for a long time were not worthy enough.
The main opposition therefore is not going into these elections without reservations over its choice of presidential candidate. Already one former member of the party has pledged his support to the PPP’s presidential candidate and there is likely to be a procession of others to follow, all running from the discontent within the PNCR.
There is also likely to be other concerns such as why the presidential candidate is not the leader of the party. This will be another storm- creator when the election is over because if Mr. Granger, as is expected, becomes the leader of the PNCR, there will be detractors and this could see the party splinter especially if it loses the election.
Losing an election always brings demands for change and the PNCR has been able over the years to resist such demands. But will it be able to do so if it loses its fifth consecutive election to the PPP?
If, however, APNU wins the elections, then there is not likely to be a problem. But can APNU win considering all the factors against it?
It is hard to see how the PPP could really lose to APNU. The economy is at its best ever. There are undeniable signs of progress all around. Guyana is enjoying its best years. President Jagdeo is immensely popular with the people, however much his detractors may feel about him.
The PPP still has an effective election machinery which knows how to win an election. The gap that the opposition has to make-up from 2006 to now is too large a gap to do within five years. It will take much longer, far much longer.
The deck is stacked against the opposition. It is hard to envisage the PPP losing an election.
But as the PPP’s presidential candidate has said, winning an election means getting the vote out. The fact that the PPP is facing such a weakened field makes its supporters feel confident, so confident that they could have well fallen into the trap of becoming complacent.
The only chance the opposition has is to ensure that the level of complacency is so high that it may be able to sneak a victory by the narrowest of margins in a situation where the ruling party’s supporters do not go out to vote in their usual numbers.
The PPP has always tried to ensure that its supporters recognize the importance of getting out the vote. And so, in the past that party has raised old bogeys about the need to guard against the return of the PNC.
There are still sufficient Guyanese out there with the memories of the hard times that were endured in Guyana, and the least thing they want is a return of those times. The PPP had in the past played to these fears by raising up the specter of the PNC past.
The other fear that galvanizes the supporters of the PPP is the fear of political protests by the opposition since this has often in the not too distant past been associated with certain actions that are not pleasing to be supporters of the PPP.
The PPP supporters are becoming complacent. While the turn out at Albion was massive, it could have been better but there were persons who did not come out because like the days when the West Indies dominated international cricket, these supporters felt that no matter who the PPP came up against, victory was certain.
That is complacency within the ruling camp and the best way to drive out this complacency is for the opposition to take to protests. The PPP has lured the opposition into taking a stand on the Sharma issue. In so doing, they have played into the PPP hands. The opposition’s argument is that the government should wait the outcome of legal cases before imposing the suspension of Sharma’s license.
But instead of themselves following the legal route and seeking to have a stay of the decision, they have opted to play into the PPP hands by issuing an ultimatum which binds them to take action should the PPP not withdraw the suspension of Sharma‘s licence.
Any protests at this time will awaken the complacent supporters of the PPP and deliver to the ruling party a massive turnout at the polls.
If the opposition was hoping to sneak to victory behind a complacent ruling party, it has just squandered that opportunity with its ultimatum.
The ruling party, true to form, has responded to by virtually indicating that there will be no withdrawal. Thus it is for the opposition to respond.
The die is therefore cast. The opposition cannot back down, and if its protests fail, as it will, the opposition will end up losing face and at the same time losing whatever slim chances it had to secure a victory.
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