Political change can be a good thing, especially for a country which has been traditionally saddled with extended periods of rule by one party. The PNC ran Guyana for 28 years between 1964 and 1992; then the PPPC followed with 23 year from 1992 to 2015.
When a political party has an automatic ticket to successive re-election, it can lose its way as we have seen in the cases of both the PNC and the PPP. They took things for granted and ended up being booted from power. Political change is a wake-up call to these political behemoths not to take the people for granted.
A few years ago, when this column projected that one-term governments will become a feature of our modern politics, the idea was scoffed at and dismissed by the so-called political experts. But this prediction has now materialized with the APNU+AFC being reduced to one-term.
Political change has once again come to Guyana and this is good news because it means that political parties cannot any longer take the electorate for granted nor can they simply rely on ethnic voting for victory. People, having experienced change, are no longer fearful that one party gets it, it cannot be removed through elections. They are therefore increasingly going to hold governments accountable. Those who fail to be accountable to the people and who take them for granted are going to be rejected.
Ethnic voting can no longer guarantee victory to any of the country’s political parties. The demographics of Guyana has changed. The ethnic security dilemma has been removed. Indians no longer command, on their own, a majority and as we saw in the 2015, the PNCR, with the support of smaller parties, was able to win.
This is good for Guyana because it means the fear of permanent ethnic ostracism from power has been removed. We can now envisage an era in which the large parties will be forced into alliances with smaller parties in order to win an election. We have also seen a plethora of small parties emerge and secure a handy number of votes. If only all of them had joined their lists, they would have emerged as a stronger parliamentary force.
But they have time on their side. Rome was not built in a day. Political parties do not become strong overnight.
Alliance politics will become a feature. The indigenous vote will be critical and with Lenox Shuman enhancing his reputation at the 2020 elections, his party may eventually hold the balance of power in future parliaments.
There is speculation that the vulgar attempt by the APNU+AFC to steal the elections will force them to be rejected totally in future elections. We heard similar sentiments after the assassination of Walter Rodney. We heard how the PNC would have become a 10% party. It turned out quite the opposite and the PNCR, with the right leadership, has a good chance of returning to office in 2025.
Right now, we are at the stage of political theatrics. There is a tussle taking place within the PNCR to see which leader can outdo the other. This is playing to political gallery because it is now likely that someone will have to be elected to replace David Granger. The path of political succession is being paved and the question now is who will succeed David Granger whenever that times come. This is why some leaders of the PNCR are trying to see who can jump higher than the other. They are making their pitch for political leadership.
It is sad what has happened to David Granger. But his mistakes are for others to learn from. He gave too much authority to some persons and they let him down by their conduct and corruption. He did not have a good team around him and his lieutenants embarrassed him. Some of them were more into business deals than helping the people. They hitched on to the frock tails of businesspersons who were previously aligned to the PPPC. The Coalition paid the political price because the people were not blind.
Some of them may have misled Granger into believing that the APNU+AFC’s Statements of Polls showed that the Coalition had won the elections. Granger should have gotten his own trusted people to check to ensure this was true.
The beauty about change is that it gives you a chance to look back at your mistakes and to make things right. The PPPC looked back at their mistakes and for the past five years they have been working the grassroots. It is because of this work that they won the 2016 and 2018 local government elections and defeated the Coalition in the General and Regional Elections this year.
But they know that if they mess up, the voters will kick them out in 2025. Remember my prediction about one-term governments.
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