The last quarter of 2017 perhaps marks the final end of the AFC. It taxes the imagination enormously to envisage a situation where the AFC as a third party that had so much promise could survive to 2020, contest national elections and win votes in those constituencies that we know voted for them in 2011 and 2015.
What can the AFC possibly do to make Guyanese say that the AFC has proven to be a national saviour and deserves to have their votes?
If we look at the permutations, there aren’t many. Let us look at them and I choose the word “them” rather than saying “some of them” simply because not many survival roads exist for the AFC. There is the suggestion that to retain life credibility, the AFC should dissociate itself from the type of governance Guyana is having by giving up its ministries and sitting in the House as backbenchers.
It is a weird suggestion that is completely unrealistic. One must remember that the AFC is not a pressure group but an electorally based organization. By what means could they attract substantial votes if they exit the government now? They will be obliterated in 2020 for two fundamental reasons.
One – sections of the electorate will see them as unprincipled, meaning that when mistakes are being made they jumped ship and laid the blame on the PNC only. Two- their Indian constituencies that voted for them will be prey to the PPP’s rhetoric that the AFC got used and now they are trying to save their skin by denouncing the PNC; why trust such opportunistic people, the PPP will say. It is persuasive propaganda that Indians will accept.
One pathway is for the AFC to put their ministries at the disposal of the citizenry and come across as a visionary, revolutionary, freedom loving group of politicians. That would not happen. No AFC Minister has that type of capacity, ability, political culture, innovative thinking, and nationalistic values to embark on such a journey. The brutal reality about Guyanese politics is that the AFC’s political culture is more backward than the PNC and PPP’s.
These two parties are older entities with vast and deep exposure to working class politics. These two parties have serious working class constituencies that they cater for. It is virtually impossible to find the leadership of PPP or the PNC, after an election victory, inviting a non-activist to take up a Ministry. As soon as the 2015 election results were known and the AFC met to choose their ministers, they asked a certain woman, who was a friend of two AFC leaders and not an activist, to become the Minister of the Environment.
In the history of politics in this land, there has not been a previous example of such madness. This is the nature of the AFC; it is almost a reactionary group that mirrors the ontology of the United Force of the 60s.
Maybe the AFC sees its election rebirth through the flow of oil money. With oil money, it will use its ministries to spread resources among its constituencies, hoping then to put the coalition far over the 51 percent line in the next general elections. That is wishful thinking. In 2020, when the election is due, oil money would not be flowing. The funds will come in around 2021 or soon after. What it means is that from 2018 to 2020, the AFC ministers will not have unlimited funds to mollify those constituencies that voted for them in the last two elections.
It is my studied opinion that only two survival roads exist for the AFC which are explained above and both are mirages in the desert. I believe the AFC and the PNC will agree to campaign again as a coalition but the AFC will not have any latitude or space to negotiate anything with the PNC and the PNC will not negotiate sharing of power with the AFC.
The PNC position will be that any ministerial assignments will have to wait on the election results. If those results show that the AFC did not do well in those parts of Guyana where East Indians are a majority, the PNC will not share power if the coalition wins.
I believe the PNC will not even concede the prime ministerial slot to the AFC during the campaign and offer the AFC the prime minister’s position if victory is achieved. The PNC, given the sociological reality, will go with an Indian as PM but who says that person will come from the AFC?
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