What happens, as in the case of APNU, when you give an election your best shot and still lose by close to eight percentage points? What happens when this loss occurs when your main political rival underperformed?
This is the situation that faces APNU. It had a higher voter turnout of its supporters than any other party, yet could not repeat its 1992 performance.
It could not also secure the presidency even though the PPPC supporters fell victim to overconfidence and complacency and failed to go out in their usual numbers to vote because they felt that given the performance of the Guyanese economy over the last term, the PPP would have won a commanding majority.
The PPP did not and now there is a situation whereby it does not hold a majority in the National Assembly. In as much as APNU improved on the PNCR dismal performance in 2006, that grouping has to be wondering just what it is going to take for it to win the presidency of Guyana.
In the past, it could have reacted to its defeat by claiming that the Westminster system left it powerless. In fact, APNU campaigned on the basis that the Westminster system was ill- suited to our reality and marginalized the opposition.
The results of the elections have however questioned that position. The results have handed the joint opposition, the very opposition that has expressed serious concerns about the system, real power in the legislative assembly. And it seems as if APNU is making hay while the sun is shining.
In this task APNU has found a ready bedmate with the Alliance for Change. So close now are the two parties that they are now virtually inseparable.
There is no longer, it seems, any problem with the much maligned Westminster system but you can bet your bottom dollar that if the PPP calls snap elections later this year and secures its inevitable majority, the complaints about winner- takes- all politics will emerge.
And the system will once again be maligned. But right now things are going APNU and the AFC’s way and they are happy, very happy.
Right now winner- takes- all politics is the order of the day in the parliament. No quarter is being given to the PPPC. The ruling party was locked out of the process of arriving at a Speaker and is now locked out of any meaningful role in the Committee of Selection.
The supporters of the PPP are however paying close attention to what is taking place. They are witnessing how the combined opposition are ganging up against the ruling party and they will in time come to the realization that these groupings can never ever be trusted with political power because if they can be so all consuming when they do have executive power, imagine if they get their hands on the presidency.
The PPP, of course, has little reason to complain about. It is getting its just deserts. When it had the majority in the National Assembly it also gave no quarter.
And it has placed itself in the position where it is susceptible to being marginalized. The much vaunted PPP electoral machinery went askew because of incompetence in the management of the election campaign and arrogance and unbecoming behaviour on the campaign platform.
There is urgency for the PPP to begin to implement changes to the party machinery and this change should begin with the retirement of key persons within the PPP campaign machinery who were responsible for their loss. These persons should be voted out at the next Congress regardless of the standing they held in previous governments. But this is not likely to happen.
With no change the PPP supporters will continue to be frustrated and will look elsewhere. And they will look increasingly to the AFC.
The PPP made huge mistakes during the run-up to the elections. It was so confident that it had things covered, so sure that its effective management of the economy would lead to a comfortable victory that it forgot to do what it was always good at.
At least one leader has pointed out that the 2011 elections was the only time that he could recall when the party activists did not do house to house checking of the voter’s list.
The PPP realized very late in the day that large numbers of its supporters were not registered and despite having GECOM opening up back the process, large numbers were still unregistered.
Despite this, the PPP was comfortable that its ability to get out its members would give it an easy victory. But here again it failed and one of the reasons it failed was because its much vaunted machinery had become rusty and inefficient.
It is now reaping the rewards of this incompetence. It has to bear its humiliation and allow its supporters to see what the dangers of not going out to vote are.
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