The talk of the town is about giving Mark Benschop a chance in the Mayoral elections. This is the buzz in the city at the moment.
People feel that even if he does not make it to become Mayor, at least if he gets to become a member of the council he will create an atmosphere of change, since he will speak out and be an independent voice at City Hall.
A great many people voted for change on May 11, 2015. They have been disappointed. They have not seen the change they expected. Sure enough the city is cleaner – that is a positive development – but there is a feeling more of exchange rather than change.
Their expectations have not been met. There has been a great deal of disappointment. Things were promised that have not been delivered; things that to the ordinary man were important.
Some people of course will be happy with the present situation. They do not mind one bit that the change expected has not materialized. Their only objective was to see the backs of the PPP and it really does not matter if APNU turns out worse than the PPP, these persons are going to be quite content with the fact that the party they support is in power.
The AFC has been a major disappointment. Many felt that the AFC would have been able to exercise greater influence on the affairs of government. However, the AFC has been effectively sidelined in the new administration and is quite content, seemingly, to “toe the line.”
People who voted for change have not seen the change. Local government elections give these persons another go at creating change in the country.
This time the stakes are not high. The government is not going to fall if APNU loses in areas where they are expected to win. The government will not fall if APNU does not do as it believes it should do.
The PPP is not expected to pose a threat to APNU within the city. The PPP will struggle to gain 20% of the total votes in the city. So it has no chance whatsoever of either winning or controlling City Hall. This alone should encourage voters to break with traditional voting patterns and to vote for a real change rather than allow the local government elections to be a two-way contest between APNU and the PPP.
In this type of scenario – where the PPP is not a threat to APNU’s power base and where even the loss of a few NDCs and municipalities will not present problems for the ruling coalition – people theoretically may be inclined to give the independent candidates and independent parties a chance.
People want to see a difference in the politics of this country. They want to see an end to this constant political bickering between APNU and the PPP. The AFC was supposed to create this change. But it has not done so and has become an appendage of APNU.
People are therefore looking for an alternative. They want change. They want to see and hear independent voices. They want leaders who are not caught up in this low-intensity civil war that has existed for sixty years between the PNC and the PPP.
They may not like some of the independent candidates or even know them. But they are desperate for something different and they may just as well take a chance on some of the independent candidates and parties.
This is one reason why perhaps they may want to give Benschop a chance. They may want to give him a chance, not because they like him, but because some third or fourth forces are needed in Guyanese politics, even at City Hall.
And seeing that at the local government level, a win or loss for the PPP or APNU will not affect power at the centre, the people may just be tempted this time to give Benschop the chance they did not give him at general elections.
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