Because I recently conducted an opinion survey on political issues, I received several queries on which party or alliance has the advantage going into any election, and whether A New and United Guyana (ANUG), Liberty and Justice Party (LJP) or other Minor parties can make a difference in the elections.
Attention is specifically focused on whether Mr. Ralph Ramkarran would make a difference to the outcome of an election, winning it for his party. The poll shows that Mr. Ramkarran commands a lot of respect among certain sections of the population and no party should dismiss his influence and importance in the coming elections.
I was reminded that in polls conducted in 2011, I stated that the PPP would win a majority if Messrs. Ralph Ramkarran, Moses Nagamootoo, Robert Persaud, or Dr. Frank Anthony were to be its Presidential candidate. None of them were chosen as the nominee and the PPP ran short of a majority of seats in parliament.
In 2015, I was further reminded that polls I conducted showed that if Mr. Ramkarran were to return to the PPP and become its Presidential nominee, it would win the elections. He did not return to the PPP, and the party was ousted from office in May 2015. Now I am being asked if Ramkarran could lead ANUG or an alliance to victory and whether Messrs. Frank Anthony and Anil Nandlall are assets to the PPP’s election campaign.
Bharrat Jagdeo is indisputably the most popular political figure in Guyana. Were he the PPP/C’s Presidential nominee, the party would easily win an election. But the constitution bars him from seeking a third term, providing serious challenges to the PPP to win an election.
Ramkarran is the second most likeable political figure (behind Jagdeo) in the greater Georgetown area (Regions 1, 3, 4, 5). Ramkarran is not so well known in Regions 2 and 6 and is almost unknown in the hinterland regions. President David Granger retains popularity in his party’s base.
But in the regions where he is known, Ramkarran is an asset to any party or alliance and his presence will make a difference to the outcome of an election. He is the star attraction of ANUG. However, ANUG will not win an election, though it could win crucial seats. If Ramkarran were the Presidential or Prime Ministerial nominee of an alliance (with APNU+AFC or with PPP/C), such an alliance would most definitely win a majority of seats. But he is not likely to lead any alliance. Thus, neither one is likely to win a majority of seats at this time.
Ramkarran is viewed as a figure of integrity. He is adored as an elder statesman. People trust him and have faith in his promises and commitments. The business community and professionals seem supportive of his proposal for power sharing among the parties and ethnic groups in a national unity government. Even supporters of APNU and AFC said they would vote for a PPP/C+ANUG alliance led by Ramkarran or an alliance of all opposition parties. An alliance of all opposition parties would win a landslide victory against the incumbent coalition.
Like Ramkarran for ANUG, Lenox Shuman is a star attraction of LJP and could be a critical asset to any alliance with the major parties. As leader, he has support among the Amerindian community, though not well known on the coastland where the LJP is struggling for support.
With regard to Dr. Frank Anthony and Anil Nandlall, both have their supporters who are disappointed that they were not selected as the PPP Presidential nominee. A significant portion of the traditional PPP base said they will not vote because of the rejection of Frank and Anil as the Presidential candidate. It will take a lot of convincing by Frank and Anil and other PPP figures to bring out their disgruntled supporters to cast their ballot for the PPP. Some have indicated they will stay home or vote ANUG. Some AFC supporters also stated they will not vote.
Because of the disaffection in the base of the PPP and disappointment among AFC supporters, the outcome of the coming elections between the coalition and PPP will be interesting. Ramkarran, Shuman, Anil and Frank may very well determine the outcome.
Dr. Vishnu Bisram
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