Will the PNC’s alleged rigging of its own internal elections hurt it at the next general election? That is a key question that analysts will examine before the nation goes to the polls (due in two years); early elections are not expected this year as the PNC does not want an election and neither does the AFC (in spite of its huffing and puffing of a no confidence vote). None of the three parties wants an election because all three are unsure of the outcome. One outcome is sure – the PNC is certain to retain its base as that has been the pattern of voting of its traditional supporters since 1957 and may even improve on it; they have not gravitated from that position, except briefly in 2006, when some abandoned the PNC and voted for the AFC. They returned to the base in 2011. In spite of all the rigging between 1964 and 1992, the PNC kept its base and the PNC leadership always unites regardless of rigging.
So the alleged rigging last week will not affect the outcome of the support of the PNC. If anything, it may lead to increased support for the PNC. The anti-PNC support is divided. Early elections could hurt the AFC and quite possibly the PPP also because the latter’s supporters continue to complain that they are being neglected in favor PNC supporters. Many PPP supporters plan to boycott the polls as they did in 2011 in Regions 3, 4, 5, 6.
When I was in Essequibo (Regions 2 and 3) to conduct a NACTA survey last month, right after the rice farmers’ protest, I chatted with several people about the protest and of complaints of the rice farmers (unfair pricing of dhan/rice and late delivery of their money from the sale of dhan/chaaor). To say the farmers were/are angry with the PPP is an understatement. They blame the PPP for their lack of payment or the low price for their products – whether the PPP is responsible for the money issue is an altogether different matter. The farmers believe the PPP is responsible for their ills. Thus, the trip by Ministers and the President to calm the farmers and light a fire on the behind of the rice millers to effect fair pricing and payment to the farmers. The farmers plan to teach a lesson to the PPP by withholding their votes or cast ballot for another party as sugar workers did in 2011 when the PPP neglected its supporters in favor of PPNC supporters (as claimed by PPP supporters). When I asked traditional PPP supporters if they would boycott the polls, many answered in the affirmative with some saying they would vote AFC. When I asked if they would vote PNC, they answered in the negative; they do not view that party as an option although some said the PPP would be surprised to find out how many have left it in favor of the PNC or AFC. The AFC has been courting disenchanted PPP supporters with AFC leaders telling them that the PPP has been neglecting them in favor of PNC supporters as AFC leaders did in the 2011 elections. They point to how Linden is getting free or subsidized electricity while they (others) have to pay the full price for electricity energy. The AFC has succeeded in its propaganda because former PPP supporters now say the PPP leadership should go to Linden and Buxton and other PNC supported communities to get votes since they get the bulk of the resources and the PPP has traditionally neglected its base – (the PPP’s supporters view).
Asked if they were concerned, should PNC return tom power, that the PNC would return to its old ways of rigging elections and restoring dictatorial rule, national service, banning of essential foods, etc., as happened between 1965 and 1992, PPP supporters say the world has changed and that the PNC will not return to abusing human rights as it did for 28 years. But will the PNC’s alleged rigging of its own elections last week change peoples’ views of what has been an increasingly positive view of that party by some PPP supporters since Granger became leader three years ago? That is the key question. Recently, the PNC has stated that it plans to restore national service and it also stated that Guyanese can return to consumption of local products.
The PNC would have boosted its image and won over PPP supporters by allowing delegates to be freely selected by party members and by holding a free and fair election at its convention instead of allegedly stacking the delegates for an expected outcome. Granger would have won hands down in a fair vote because his opponents were not attractive to the PNC members. Now that the sordid discredited affair is over, the PNC should immediately consider re-holding another election in which all its members would be given the right to vote to choose the leader and other executives. This would show the party is not afraid of democracy setting an unprecedented situation that would shame the other two parties that have also been criticized for not holding free internal elections. Note that the other two parties have not criticized the PNC for reportedly rigging its internal election. Granger would most certainly win a fair internal election and even win over many disenchanted PPP supporters (by such an action) that could take him to the Presidency at the next general election. But will the PNC take the risk of a free and fair vote, something it has never done in its history? People have pointed out that all the PNC defenders – Tarron Khemraj, Asquith Rose, Haresh Singh, Mahadeo Persaud, Malcolm Harripaul, Freddie Kissoon, etc. have been quiet on the PNC elections. Will they call on the PNC to hold a democratic election?
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