The two electoral systems of Proportional Representation (PR) and First Past the Post (FPTP) or constituency representation, each have strong validities. Space would not allow for a discussion of the strengths and weaknesses of both, but FPTP offers a certain protection in the growth of individuality that PR does not.
Most people, even those who don’t have an interest in politics or follow political happenings in their respective countries, know that in the constituency system, there is a candidate in the area in which they live that has an elected MP that they could protect if his/her central bosses do not like the openness and good things he/she is doing for his/her constituency.
FPTP enables a maverick MP to confront his/her undemocratic party bosses because if recalled, the constituency can put him/her up as a candidate in the next election, thus the party loses a seat. In many marginal seats in FPTP, the party leaders are scared to mistreat a local candidate who is very popular with his/her constituents.
Charrandass Persaud emerged as the constituency MP for Berbice after the 2015 elections. Berbicians had to go to him to discuss their grievances and desires. They had no business trying to get the Region 4 MP to do things for them. They had a Region 6 representative in parliament.
When the Region 6 MP voted for the no-confidence motion (NCM) in December 2018, the viciousness in the language directed against Charran was sick and depraved.
Let’s digress a tiny bit. One of the local news websites carried a Facebook post from Minister David Patterson in which he is quoted as saying the 2020 election campaign is the most vicious and divisive he has seen. He added that people that he considers friends are uttering nasty things against him that he would never have imagined they were capable of.
When I read that, I wondered why Patterson found that process so abnormal. Patterson’s leadership colleagues in the AFC did the same to Charran. Moses Nagamootoo wrote in the Chronicle that Charran took a bribe to vote. Ramjattan did the same and Charran sued him.
To date there isn’t even an infinitesimal speck of evidence that the researcher can use to find the paper trail of bribery. In a modern age of scientifically impeccable anti money-laundering laws, not even a speck of proof has been provided to the public on Charran’s financial mischief.
The PNC leadership, Charran’s own colleagues in the AFC, pro-government supporters, were using the Chronicle and social media to dirty the character of Charran. Commissioner of the Ethnic Relations Commission, Barrington Braithwaite in a column in the Chronicle described the circumstances in Charran’s life that led to him being bribed. Braithwaite actually wrote that, and the Chronicle’s editor actually published that.
In the tsunamic condemnations of Charran from the government side, lost in the waves was the attitude of Berbicians. Did Region 6 support the action of its MP? This is where the PPP failed to devise a scientific method to protect the credibility of Charran. Soon after the nasty accusations began to hit the air, the PPP should have commissioned a scientific poll to ascertain how Berbicians felt about Charran’s vote.
The response was simple. Acquire the services of a professional polling organization in the region or South America, or in a country close to Guyana like the US, UK or Canada. That would have shut the mouths of those who would have shouted that it was a fake poll. Respected social scientists would have come and tested the attitudes of Berbicians on Charran’s vote. The PPP had the money to do that. Had they done it, it would have dented the hurricane of evil accusations that greeted Charran.
Here is why. Each time a PNC or AFC leader or a type like Barrington Braithwaite attacked Charran, then they were by extension attacking the choice of hundreds of thousands of Berbicians, and the poll results would have been there to counter them. I cannot understand why Charran endorsed the PPP for the upcoming national election. The PPP could have provided him with that scientific umbrella, but it chose not to.
Each time a condemner of Charran spoke, the counter would have been – “but Berbicians that he represented approved of his action, don’t they have the right to tell their MP how to vote?”
In FPTP, the constituency tells the MP how they want him/her to vote. The vicious outpourings against Charran will no doubt fill the atmosphere in the election season we are in. But in this unfolding scenario, we cannot cite the support of Berbice for Charran. There are no poll results.
(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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