There are a few things about small parties that are disturbing. The public is told that “Change Guyana” does not want to merge with other small parties but want these parties to join Change Guyana. Surely Robert Badal and Nigel Hinds, the two essential movers in Change Guyana, should know better.
ANUG is merging with the Federal Party (FED-UP). Whether Change Guyana likes it or not, the names in those two parties are prominent, because their main actors have been around a long time, and given the nature of their professions, are well known.
FED-UP has some legal personalities that have been active in the legal profession in Berbice for a very long time. Berbicians know those people. It is not because they are lawyers that would make people vote for them, it is because given the length of their experience, Berbician society has come to hear about them and interact with them.
ANUG targets the lower, middle and upper levels of the prominent stratum in Guyanese society. These are the people that are cynical about the PPP and PNC and detest the AFC. It is unwise for the leaders of Change Guyana to believe ANUG will just sink their long experience under the leadership of Change Guyana. That is asking too much.
Also, Change Guyana does not carry the badges that ANUG and FED-UP wear. Mr. Badal is a known figure, but outside of business circles, he does not command a towering embrace. Mr. Badal is intelligent enough to know that to get one seat, his party has to collect 5000 votes. The question is can he collect the votes of 5000 business people. Business folks will split their votes on several parties. He will need the ballots of white collar workers and working people.
Mr. Nigel Hinds, the Prime Ministerial candidate has not been around long enough to pull votes from the middle classes and rural folks. Hinds is susceptible to devastating political critiques from his PPP and PNC detractors, and it is best he finds an umbrella body that can shield him from such attacks. This columnist has documents on serious political mistakes of Hinds that if released could embarrass him, but I want to see third parties do well, so I will not dwell on the subject.
The point I am making is that Change Guyana and ANUG have to recognize their weaknesses and attempt a merger.
Both of them have strengths and weaknesses, and the latter could be diminished if they coalesce. ANUG needs Change Guyana and Change Guyana needs ANUG. It is reckless for Change Guyana to flippantly tell ANUG, they will only accept it if it sinks its identity into Change Guyana.
When it comes to Citizens’ Initiative, I would like to think that Ruel Johnson is wise enough to know that the target of 5000 votes at this stage of the game is hard to achieve. My feeling is that Johnson is intelligent enough to know that a coalition of small parties plus the Amerindian entity stand an excellent chance of creating a minority presidency.
The New Movement says it will not join in a coalition with other third parties. Is this ego-tripping or naivety? I have been in political activism for fifty years and I don’t know any of the names in the New Movement. I haven’t heard about these people. I move in circles of working class people and lower middle class folks and they have never heard about those names.
The New Movement consists of mostly young doctors, but if all the medical doctors vote for them (which is impossible since Dr. Vindya Persaud and Dr. Frank Anthony of the PPP are medical doctors and Dr. George Norton from the PNC is a medical doctor) that still would not bring them to 5000 to get a seat. Perhaps the New Movement feels it can attract young voters, but where are the young academics, engineers, lawyers, accountants that are in the leadership?
You just cannot spring up overnight and think you can get people to vote for you. Even Ruel Johnson has more claims on young voters than those in the New Movement. Johnson has chalked up a profile for himself among young Guyanese. The last party that should want to go it alone is the New Movement. The logics are not on its side. First, its leaders are completely unknown to the Guyanese society. Secondly, it has no record as speaking up for human rights. Thirdly, time is not on its side, because elections are two months away. The small, third parties need to merge as soon as yesterday. They will create minority government. I will vote for the merger.
(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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