Coalition governments are seldom solid. What makes coalition rule unsteady is the very nature of it – it is a coalition. Any dictionary will inform you that a coalition regime is a number of different organizations that came together with each wanting to use the State, if it wins elections, to implement its ideas and programmes.
The most common example of instabilities that characterize coalition governments is Israel. Each party has its own agenda, and to form a government, the larger parties have to make concessions. Some of these parties are theocratic, some strongly anti-Palestinian, some pro-compromise
Italy once had several governments within each year because the coalition entities could never agree thus they would pull out of the formation and new elections would have to be held. Italy became a joke around the world for the number of governments it would have in each year. One thing is common in coalition administrations – each party must have some of its core values transmitted into policy.
There is no way a coalition would last if one of its units is an environment party and the government refuses to commit itself to climate change. What brings trouble in multi-party regimes is that each of the units fights in government to keep its raison d’etre
The opposite of coalition rule is single party or majority party government. The UK has majority rule; so is Trinidad. The ruling party in those countries does not have to make concessions to other political parties because those parties are not sharing power with them. Guyana does not have single party rule. The situation in Guyana is complicated and it is best if a brief description is given.
There is a document titled the Cummingsburg Accord signed between APNU and the AFC. It is a covenant between these parties to share power. And that is what they are doing.
The State then, in Guyana, is controlled by two entities- the APNU and AFC. They both agree that each has separate authority within the state machinery to pursue their core values. The President of Guyana constitutionally has control over the State but he has accepted through the Cummingburg Accord to the dilution of that power because the government has conceded aspects of state control to the AFC. Perhaps the most elementary way of putting it is that the Prime Ministership comprises that section of the state machinery that APNU cannot interfere with. Those familiar with the politics the past six months would know that there have been demands made by the AFC on the State that APNU does not agree to, for example, a reduction in the portfolios of the Minister of the Presidency.
We come now to the complication with state power in Guyana. The formation that goes by the name of APNU is in itself a multi-party construct. It has some very tiny members that for all intent and purpose were never viable political organizations and would not have picked up even fifty votes had they contested elections on their own.
I doubt people in Guyana even know about them. APNU was essentially the work of the PNC and the WPA. It was a long drawn out process of tough negotiations because most people who follow politics in Guyana wherever they are would know that there is a long history of deep and extensive bitterness between the WPA and the PNC.
All eyes were on the WPA. Their explanation was that within the African community there was a psychic and cultural split that needed healing. Black people were torn between a Burnhamite PNC and a Rodneyite WPA. Both the PNC and WPA argued that a unity team would galvanize the Guyanese people to vote for APNU because they wanted to put the past behind and see the PNC and WPA in government. It happened. APNU is in power. But the question is; has APNU conceded state power to the WPA as it has to the AFC?
The answer depends on what perspective you use. Like the AFC, Ministries have been allocated exclusively to APNU coalition partners with one going to the WPA – the Education Ministry under the WPA co-leader, Dr. Rupert Roopnaraine. But the analyst is bound to ask the WPA, where are the expressions of the WPA’s core values in the manifestations of state power?
In other words, in coalition governments, there has to be a prominent role in the State machinery for the different units. We see that in Guyana with the AFC. APNU has majority share in the state machinery. Where is the WPA’s role? Why was there no state sponsorship of Rodney’s death anniversary last week?
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