Governments tend to be hard-nosed. They can be most unwilling most of the times to change their views or alter their actions – just take a look at how the present government has dug in its heels on issues such as the appointment of a Chairperson of GECOM and the state advertisement controversy.
But all it takes to bring about a drastic change in responsiveness is the prospect of a loss of political office. Faced with the prospects of losing office, the political elites who control government suddenly are willing to react positively to demands.
Charrandass Persaud has attracted acidic condemnation from supporters of APNU and the AFC, but had he not supported the no-confidence motion, the same-bullheaded approach to government which had been practiced for three and half years may have continued.
But faced with the reality that it was unpopular – after all APNU and the AFC lost by wide margins in both the 2016 and 2018 local government elections – the elite made a full 180-degree turn and has been reaching out to the public and attempting to win back popular support. Would all of that have happened without the no-confidence motion?
Some of it may have been done as the country nears elections. But for the past year, it has been non-stop outreaches and community meetings by government officials seeking to win back popular support. It shows the value of that democratic mechanism called a no-confidence motion. It has spurred a recalcitrant elite back to life.
Everyone expected that the government would have offered an attractive wage package to public sector workers given that elections is near. This is what governments facing an election do: they become extremely generous. More goodies are in the tin.
So for all those public servants who are celebrating their wage increases, please remember when you are taking your celebratory drink, to ‘throw one’ for Charrandass, because without his support, that 9% tax free may have well been 6% taxable.
Governments are in the habit of ‘peaking’ just in time for elections. ‘Peaking’ is the practice of launching a flurry of developmental activities as election nears. All the things which could not have been done in the preceding years are suddenly put on the front-burners.
Peaking has been criticized and a form of political deception which makes people appear to be gullible – that you can, as election nears, put on a side-show and people fall for it as sustained development.
People are much smarter than that though. They know political gamesmanship when they see it; they know when things are being done to woo their votes and they play along because they can benefit. But what people really want is development from day one, development regardless of whether elections are near or not.
The way people vote generally in Guyana has nothing to do with what the government does. Voting in Guyana is generally along ethnic lines, regardless of how well or how poorly a government performs. So whether or not there is peaking would not change anything. But it does give the government something to boast about on the campaign trail. They can rant off a list of what they have done and what they are doing.
Elections are called a silly season. But the people are not easily fooled. They expected to have been given a nice Christmas and they are sure likely to be given the best Mashramani ever. There is going to be another jubilee – this time for Republic. You are going to have fireworks and a grand show at D’Urban Park. The nation will be in a frenzy.
And still they will go out next year and forget all about that and vote as they usually do. Led by the newest generation of Guyanese. Some things never change, even with all the fuss around.
There has been a hive of development activity over the past ten months following the no-confidence motion. There is going to be a mad rush to do more over the next four months. The no-confidence motion has brought some benefits to the people. And for that alone, the people should raise a toast to Charrandass!
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper)
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