Latest update March 27th, 2023 12:59 AM
Mar 19, 2023 Features / Columnists, Peeping Tom
Kaieteur News – The PNCR was an attempt at reinventing the party of Forbes Burnham. As part of that process, the later leader of the party, Desmond Hoyte, cultivated a personality cult and aligned himself and the party with prominent, but by no means representative, persons from within the private sector.
This alignment was done for the purposes of image. Hoyte knew that after years of depressing economic circumstances, the Guyanese people wanted change, even if a significant number of them were not keen on that change taking the form of the PPP.
Hoyte understood the need for change and so he projected himself as that change. The PNC moved from asking the Guyanese electorate to “light up your life with Desmond Hoyte” to Hoyte portraying himself as: “I am the change.”
In the end he did not manage to hold on to power and his party lost the elections in 1992 after scores of his supporters accustomed to the PNC gaining a majority without popular support, failed to register to vote. Despite this fact, the PNC gained more votes in 1992 than APNU did in 2011 and more votes in percentage terms in 1992 than APNU did in 2011, effectively parodying the idea that APNU did well in the 2011 elections.
After the 1992 elections, Hoyte attempted another reinvention of his party by entering into an alliance with a Reform component of mainly business people and professionals, similar to what the PPP had done with the Civic.
That alliance eventually was formally incorporated in the party which re-titled itself as the PNC Reform. The REFROM component had pulled off a major victory by catapulting itself into the old PNC structure. Later it changed the name to PNC/R.
There were many persons within the leadership of the PNC who were not comfortable with Hoyte surrounding himself with persons who were not traditionally card-bearing members of the PNC. But Hoyte had his own internal problems and needed to create machinery that would be loyal to him. He more or less was able to do this.
Over time however, and especially after his death, many of the business class members who can come on board began to go their separate ways and so the PNCR more or less entered the 2006 elections without a strong civic component.
However, the showing of the PNCR in those elections had little to do with the weakened Reform and more to do with the attitude of the traditional supporters of the PNC to the leadership of the party and what they perceived as the party’s general ineffectiveness.
By the time the 2011 elections came around, the party again saw the need to reinvent itself and it did so under the umbrella of APNU, which is supposed to be an open partnership but which has failed, like the Reform component did, to attract any grouping or party with significant electoral support.
The partnership was in effect seen more as another reinventing of the PNCR. It did create that aura of a different party with the partnership having its own colors. Today the green shirts and jerseys, without the logos, are still popping up at demonstrations which indicate that people still identify with the reinvented grouping.
The constant reinventing of the former PNC is however bound to undermine the traditional values and beliefs of the former self- professed vanguard party. How is the present PNCR, different from what existed under Hoyte or for that matter under Burnham? And how can the PNCR avoid undermining its traditional values and beliefs when at each election it has to reinvent itself.
The PNCR in the run up to the 2011 elections began to embrace an open- partnership concept. This concept is a liberal- democratic concept, can become the new vehicle through which plural interests such as the intelligentsia, civil society groupings, and non- governmental bodies, all of which have more or less a uniform class outlook can penetrate into the PNCR under an APNU ticket.
Unfortunately, the domineering instincts of the PNCR and the weak electoral third parties that were part of the APNU, has prevented this from happening. And that may have unwittingly been to the PNCR’s benefit.
But given what happened during and after the 2020 general and regional elections, the PNCR will have to reinvent itself again. APNU”s future also looks limited because the Coalition is fragmenting with the withdrawal of the AFC.
The PNCR is likely to reinvent itself back to the old PNC and is likely to pursue a different approach to the 2025 elections, knowing that it stands little chance of regaining office.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and beliefs of this newspaper and its affiliates.)
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