The PNCR, the only substantive political force in the APNU, is locked into the past at a time when it should be reorganizing for the future. The party is widely believed to have lost the 2020 general elections and it must begin to assess its future chances of being restored to government and the make-up of the leadership team that are necessary to achieve this objective.
The party has shot itself in the foot by reverting to discredited and disgraceful electoral manipulation with help from its friends within GECOM. This will hurt any future chances the party’s present leadership has of retaining the confidence of a key block of its supporters.
Decent people do not support electoral fraud. The decent elements within the PNCR are bound to be appalled by the party’s electoral shenanigans of recent weeks.
Whatever the fallout from the elections, the PNCR cannot be written off as a political force. Unlike the COVID-19 coronavirus, it is not a political party which is likely to disappear off of the local map or can it be discounted as the representative of a substantive constituency.
The PNCR survived 23 years in opposition under the PPPC without imploding or suffering any substantive decline in political support. Except for 2006, under Robert Corbin, when it gained 34% of the votes, the party has consistently polled more than 40% of the electorate. Following that devastating defeat of the party to the PPPC under Bharrat Jagdeo, the party decided to widen its appeal by forming an alliance, with a number of electorally miniscule parties, which it called the A Partnership for National Unity.
The APNU secured just under 41% of the votes cast in the 2011 elections, the last time it would contest a general elections outside of a coalition with the AFC. The APNU+AFC is believed to have lost the 2020 general and regional elections.
This would be the third successive elections that the PNCR would have lost to the PPPC in the past four years. It took a hammering in the 2011 local government elections, losing the popular vote by more than 25,000 votes.
It did nothing over the next two years which would suggest that it was serious about reversing its poor showing in local government elections. Its management of the 2018 local government campaign came in for criticism after the party, for the second election in a row, took a severe beating from the PPPC, losing the popular vote by almost 45,000 votes, or almost double their margin of defeat two years earlier.
Despite these setbacks, the APNU seemed unbothered. It had a falling out with the AFC which led to its contesting the 2018 elections without its coalition partner. The PPPC brimming with confidence then delivered a jackhammer blow to the APNU+AFC when it successfully passed a no-confidence motion in December 2018.
The APNU undertook steps which effectively allowed it to stave off resigning from government and calling elections within 3 months. But despite the problems these measures attracted, the APNU chose the approach of the elections to pick a fight with its coalition partner, the AFC, over the number of seats the latter would obtain should the coalition win the 2020 elections. Strong differences also arose over the AFC’s right to the Prime Ministerial slot.
The APNU therefore should therefore not be surprised by the election results. It continued to shoot itself in the foot from 2015 onwards.
The PNCR will not have to make decisions about its future leadership. The present top-brass of the party is not getting younger and cannot be expected to lead the party into any future elections. Some of the present leadership may not be able to cope with the physical and mental demands of leading the party. Some of them are past their political prime.
It is time for change with the PNCR. But who will step up to assume the mantle of leadership. Who will step forward to replace the old guard? And will the old guard give way to a fresh team which can be the face of the party in the future?
When you are in government, a great many persons flock to your side. But when you are in opposition, those persons suddenly make themselves scarce. It is left to be seen who will cut and run now that the PNCR seems destined to be on the opposition benches, and who will commit to leading the party into the next elections in 2025.
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