There has been some speculation about President’s Granger’s candidacy at the top of the Coalition’s ticket at the next general election. The assumption is that the present coalition would contest again, and that president wants to lead the ticket.
At the level of APNU, there is an unwritten understanding that the top of the ticket comes from the PNC. So, his candidacy depends more on whether he is put forward by his party. I don’t think any of the other APNU parties would reject a nomination coming from the PNC. And unlike in 2015, I don’t think the AFC currently has the leverage to bargain for the top spot. So, if they run as the Coalition again and President Granger wants the top spot, that’s a done deal.
I think he gets the top spot partly because his party does not have an alternative leader to credibly and effectively fill the spot, and partly because of his personal integrity. While I have some difficulty with his style of leadership, I don’t see a superior candidate from among the hopefuls in the PNC. So, in such a situation incumbency rules. Granger’s strength is his personal integrity, which in our political environment is a tremendous asset. If one were tempted to look elsewhere for an alternative leader, it would be hard to find one with the same degree of personal integrity. What he lacks in political nimbleness, in the eyes of his supporters he makes up in that critical area.
So, I am prepared from this distance, barring any big, unforeseen political development, to forecast that he would be the presidential candidate if the Coalition contests again. And I think from everything I have seen and heard, he wants to continue.
While I don’t think he would be challenged for the top spot, I am very sure that he would be pressured to broaden decision-making beyond Cabinet and the Presidency. That is perhaps the biggest problem that coalition partners, including his own party, have with his leadership. I also think there would be more pressure on him to be less inflexible. So, he gets the top spot without challenge, but he would be under pressure to make some accommodations. This is where I think his ability to compromise would be severely tested.
At the mass level, my sense is that sections of the Coalition’s support base are somewhat disappointed with his leadership. From moving around the coastland, I sense a feeling among supporters that he has not been tough enough on the opposition, that he has not paid enough attention to his ethnic base, that he is too aloof, that he is not a hands-on leader, that he is too rigid and that he does not handle criticism well. But he gets high marks for being decent, incorruptible and stable.
So, I don’t see any big push-back among his supporters as far as the top spot is concerned. But for him to retain or regain the rock star effect he had in 2015, he would have to be more engaged with his base over the next two years. His speech at BV and the current handling of the teachers’ salary demands by his government should not be taken lightly. He personally would have to reassure the base that he stands with them and that he is sensitive to their concerns, interests and needs.
As far as independent voters are concerned, that’s where I think there is rejection of his leadership. I believe that a small but pivotal section which had been more politically inclined to the AFC and the WPA kind of politics, is impatient with his leadership and would not be inclined to easily support his candidacy. Independents think he comes over as too inflexible and autocratic for their liking. That group puts a lot of store on democratic forms and substance, and Granger has not always been too careful about the democratic appearances of some of his interventions. He appears to be more concerned with the letter of the law and less about the spirit and the perceptions.
In that regard, his candidacy could lead to the formation of alternative parties, which in turn could make it very difficult for the Coalition to win a majority. So, Granger is good for the base but bad for independents. My sense is that section would be more comfortable with someone like Harmon or Greenidge at the top of the ticket, if they decide to stick with the Coalition. And those independent parties could well capture some of the disaffected voters among Granger’s base, just as the AFC did in 2006
So, with Granger at the top, you get a very mixed bag. But he can lean things more to his favour, if he is willing to critically assess his stewardship and make some necessary adjustments to his style and to the substance of his policies. His handling of the planning for our coming revenues could give him a way out.
If he continues on the straight and narrow road he is currently on, he is not going to help himself much. But if he can inspire hope in the popular masses that he would use the resources to champion their causes such as poverty alleviation, he could become an even more effective candidate in 2020.
More of Dr. Hinds ‘writings and commentaries can be found on his YouTube Channel Hinds’ Sight: Dr. David Hinds’ Guyana-Caribbean Politics and on his website www.guyanacaribbeanpolitics.news. Send comments to [email protected]
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