Following the loss of an election, the foremost priority of the political elites is to preserve their strangle hold on the parties. As such, they engage in diversionary tactics and the politics of scapegoating in order to ensure that the rage of their supporters is not turned in their direction.
Following the loss of the 2015 elections, the PPP/C elites began to fear the loss of control over their party and ultimately their power base. And so they created a scapegoat by blaming the Chairman of GECOM and the Americans for the PPP/C’s loss of the elections. In so doing they diverted attention to their own failings – corruption and controversial projects – which resulted in the loss of power.
The same thing occurred in 2020 when the APNU+AFC lost political power. The political elites connected to those entities refused to surrender power. In order to sustain their attempt to remain in office, they concocted the narrative that dead and migrant persons voted, right under the noses of their polling agents. It was an attempt to refuse to accept the results of the elections.
Now the Voters’ List is being made the scapegoat. The Opposition is claiming that the List is bloated. But it was no less bloated when the APNU+AFC took office in 2015, and then it was not a problem for the Coalition.
The name of the game is self-preservation. By finding a scapegoat for their election loss, the APNU+AFC elites are hoping that their supporters would not turn against them and blame them for the loss of power.
But there was a schism within the elites of the PNC/R, the main party in the APNU. Because he dared to accept the official and lawful declaration of GECOM, daggers were pulled on David Granger and he was forced to not contest the leadership and the man, many believed to be his choice as successor as leader, was routed in the internal elections of the Congress of the party.
But the narrative has not changed with the change in leadership. The narrative remained that the dead and migrant voted and that the list is bloated and lends itself to electoral malpractice. Now added to that brew is the role of the Chairman of GECOM who is being asked to remove herself from that position.
The PNC/R is creating scapegoats. And by creating scapegoats it is diverting attention away from the real reasons why the Coalition lost the elections, and by diverting attention the political elites in the PNC/R and the AFC are preserving their own stranglehold on the party.
But the people are not fooled so easily. And there will come a time, as was the case within the PPP/C, when there will have to be a dispassionate analysis as to why the Coalition loss the elections. And when that analysis takes place, those responsible for the mistakes which led to the loss of the elections will have to take account.
It is possible however to pervert that process of accountability. This is what happened within the PPP/C. Instead of facing up to the reality that it was Jagdeo’s policies and mistakes which were responsible for the diminution of the party’s support in 2011 and the loss of power in 2015, the PPP/C made Donald Ramotar the scapegoat. Regardless of whether he wanted to continue on or not, he was replaced as General Secretary and was sidelined – whether the party will admit this or not – within the party. Yet, the 2020 election results would show that Ramotar was able to improve on the 2011 performance at the polls despite heading a minority Government.
The bourgeois class has now taken full command of the PPP/C and has pushed aside the old guard who would have had some sympathies to the working class but who were also co-opted by the bourgeois class while the PPP/C was in power.
Within the PNC/R, the situation is not that clear. There is a process of transition within the party and it is left to be seen whether the African middle class has been finally routed from the pedestal of power within that party. The existing elites however are preserving their base and eliminating the need to account for the failures in Government.
They have avoided being held accountable for the numerous controversies and failed policies which occurred between 2015 and 2020. These would have included the drugs bond scandal, the landfill contract settlement, fuel licenses controversy, the steel sale, the Fedders Lloyd controversy, the D’Urban Park Development Project, the parking meter contract, the RUDISA settlement and the issuance of fuel licenses. The elites within the PNC/R and the AFC have escaped the wrath of their supporters over the mistakes made in imposing tax burdens and in terminating more than 7,000 sugar workers.
It is called the art of political survival – create scapegoat as tactic to draw attention away from your own failures. It appears to be succeeding.
(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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