Every excuse that the PPPC has made concerning its willingness to hold local government elections has been unconvincing. Whatever excuse it has provided has created one overwhelming impression in the eyes of the public: that the PPPC is running scared of elections.
But why would the ruling party want to create this impression? Why would the PPPC, which has never lost a free and fair election in Guyana, want to do this?
Could it be that the PPPC is deliberately cultivating this impression that it does not want local government elections? Is it its plan to lull the opposition parties to feel that the PPPC is not ready to face the electorate and therefore move to have general and regional elections? Is the PPPC forcing the hands of the opposition into moving a motion of no-confidence so that the PPPC can win back its majority in national elections?
If this is so, the opposition parties have fallen for the bait. The timing of the AFC’s tabling of a no-confidence motion was quite surprising. It must have had reasons to believe that either it can win an election or that APNU can defeat the government. It really makes no sense for the combined opposition to be calling new elections, when at best all that will result is a minority government. That will amount to a return to the status quo.
So what exactly was the basis of the AFC’s decision to go to early elections? Did the AFC conduct a poll that established that if elections were called now that the party or APNU would win a majority? Before it moved into no-confidence mode it ought to have done this. Political parties do not move a vote of no-confidence these days without testing, through polls, their chances of winning an election.
So did the AFC conduct a poll to determine the outcome if elections were held within the next five months? Or was the AFC lulled into believing that the PPPC is weak and that this is the right time to pounce on the PPPC’s support base? If the AFC was so lulled, then the PPPC would have had the AFC right where it wanted it.
There are, however, two other possibilities to consider. The first may account for why the PPPC is hedging on the holding of local government elections. The second may provide the reason why the AFC wants local government elections held early in the new year.
The PPPC’s election campaigns are now almost exclusively funded by a handful of powerful financiers. The PPPC no longer has to go around with its begging bowl to Guyanese living in New York and Toronto seeking funds to contest elections. It no longer has to depend on the hundreds of small businesses in Guyana to finance the bulk of its campaign finances. The PPPC is now beholden to a small group of powerful and rich businessmen who finance the party’s election coffers.
The problem for the PPPC may be that its financiers may not be willing to finance, in a short period of time, two elections. It is not that these financiers do not have the resources to do so. It is just that they do not care that much enough about local government elections, as to have to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into an election that would not change the calculus of political power in Guyana.
This small cabal controls the PPPC’s purse strings. They are more interested in national elections than regional elections. They may therefore have instructed the PPPC to prevaricate on the issue of holding of local government polls and wait for the big one: national and regional elections. Why waste money on local government elections?
But their influence cannot account for the decision of the AFC to take Guyanese into general elections. What therefore accounts for the decision of the AFC to move in this direction through the tabling of a no-confidence motion? Is this related to a power struggle within the AFC?
The AFC emerged as a party that window dresses on the ethnic question. It emerged with two main leaders, one of whom was of Indian descent and the other of African descent. In this way, it promoted itself as a multi-ethnic party.
Under its leadership formula, the African Guyanese was the presidential candidate for the 2006 elections and the Indian Guyanese was the candidate for the 2011 elections. This seemed to be the logical succession policy within the AFC.
The only problem was that in 2011, the AFC did well enough to hold the balance of power in parliament between APNU and the PPPC. And under its present leader, the AFC made major inroads into the PPPC strongholds in 2011.
But there may still be an expectation within the party that the Presidential candidate for any future elections would have to be someone who is a Guyanese of African descent. The AFC has given no signal as to who will succeed the present leader and carry the AFC into any future election.
Could it be that the reason why the AFC is keen to go to the polls is to ensure that the status quo in its present leadership is maintained, since it would now be too late for the party to field a new person as its presidential candidate?
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