Latest update March 21st, 2023 12:59 AM
Mar 07, 2015 Features / Columnists, Peeping Tom
It is very disingenuous for the Alliance for Change (AFC) to justify its alliance with APNU on the basis that one should not continue to judge the PNCR on its past. It is equally disingenuous for the AFC to argue that it is necessary to move beyond that past.
When the AFC was formed, the pasts of the both the PPP and the PNC were very much on its mind. The AFC opted to not forget this past but to move away from those parties and the pasts that they represented.
For the AFC, Guyana’s political culture was a victim of these two parties. The AFC understood clearly then that these parties embodied a culture which the AFC wanted to have nothing to do with and as such they offered the electorate an alternative.
The AFC understood then also that the past of both parties mattered. It understood then that the political culture of Guyana was conditioned by the past. The AFC understood that the two parties played a role in shaping Guyana’s divided and fractured political culture.
It is not that parties cannot change. They can and do. It is simply that one has to look long beyond the changes in the parties -which are often times cosmetic – and examine the political culture that these parties have shaped and structured and to question whether the changes in the parties have altered the structural conditions of the culture to which these parties are inserted.
The PPP and the PNC are symbiotic twins. They need each other to survive. Without the PNC, the PPP would find it difficult to continue to dominate elections as it has done because what binds many of its supporters to the party is the fear of the PNC coming to power. Similarly, the PNC would fizzle and disappear eventually if the PPP goes out of existence because the same logic follows.
The AFC understands this. The AFC knows that the polarization that characterizes Guyanese politics is a product of the two parties, the PPP and the PNC. It is a product of their past and also of their present which is linked to that past.
If that political culture is to be de-mobilized, those pasts matter because those histories are what condition the political culture of the country.
So it is not a question of whether parties change. It is question of whether that change has altered the political culture of the country. From all accounts it has not. Indeed the raison d’etre of the present alliance between the AFC and APNU is based on the fact that the electorate remains polarized.
The AFC is not going to change that by joining with APNU. It never saw any such alliance as having that potential. If it did it would have joined with APNU since the days when that party was cobbling its Big Tent. If such an alliance was seen by the AFC as having the potential to break Guyana’s rotten political culture, a culture shaped by both the PPP and the PNC, then the AFC would have joined with PNCR since the 2011 elections. It did not join then because it just did not only look at the past of the parties but it also looked at the culture that those parties were a part of.
But even if one accepts that one should look beyond the past of a party rather than at the culture of which it is a part of, the AFC has to know that for a party to signal that it is no longer the same, that party has to demonstrate and show how it has changed. And I am not joining the bandwagon here and calling for the PNC to apologize for rigging elections. The PNCR has to do that of its own free will.
But if a party has changed then it should be able to demonstrate that it has changed. Has the PNCR really changed? What has been the role of the PNC and PNCR in stirring unrest in Guyana since 1992? Who has been most responsible for refusing to accept the will of the Guyanese people at elections? Which party’s claim to embracing internal democracy has been contradicted by the way it runs its own internal elections? Where is the evidence that the PNCR has changed?
And has the PPP not also changed. Has the leadership of the PPP not been hijacked by a cabal, linked to a financially powerful oligarchy? Has the PPP not strayed away from its socialist roots? Has the PPP not become the very thing that is fought against when it was out of office?
So why not join with the PPP? Why not look beyond the PPP’s past, including the recent past where it expelled and forced some its leaders to leave it ranks. After all the AFC now believes that parties can change and it is necessary to look beyond their pasts.
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