by Stella Ramsaroop
(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 22 August 2006)
According to the most recent polls, one of which was conducted by the North American Caribbean Teachers Association (NACTA) directed by Vishnu Bisram and the other commissioned by the AFC, the PNCR-1G has been significantly weakened and is losing ground as the elections draw near.
This is not good news for the PNCR-1G at all. However, it could also mean trouble for the PPP/C as well. These two parties have had a symbiotic relationship over the past few decades. They have fed on each other for strength and used fear of the other party to garner votes. In fact, they have been somewhat equal forces since Guyana's independence.
If not for the phenomenon of rigged elections and the national racial divide, these two parties may have developed into something similar to the Republican and Democratic parties in the U.S. where they switch power continuously based on the performance of the previous term. This situation would have been good for Guyana since it would have shifted the spotlight to performance instead of race as the primary focus of the elections.
As the PNCR-1G becomes more weakened due to its inability to restructure itself into a viable opposition party, it seems this symbiotic relationship may indeed be in jeopardy and could eventually cause the collapse of both parties – if not this election, then the next one. If you have any doubts of what I am saying, all you have to do is hear the frantic pleas for votes from even the President himself.
Because of this symbiotic relationship, the PPP/C successfully persuaded voters in the last general elections that a vote for ROAR was in essence a vote for the PNCR since it would give the PNCR an opportunity to win the elections. This was a very effective ploy since Ravi Dev enjoyed a large support base during the campaign that did not translate into votes at election time.
The PPP/C is struggling to sell this point this election season because of the weakened PNCR-1G position. This year PPP/C cannot tell an educated Guyanese voter that a vote for the AFC is a vote for the PNCR-1G. According to the most recent poll commissioned by the AFC, it would seem that party has a better chance of unseating the PPP/C than the PNCR-1G.
Jagdeo recently tried to convince his supporters that a vote for the AFC is a wasted vote because the AFC is not seeking the presidency but only a few seats in Parliament. A few months ago, I would have agreed with this statement. However, I have noticed a recent audacity in the AFC that portrays the idea that they could possibly win the upcoming elections if they are successful in convincing the PPP/C supporters that they should make their decision based on the PPP/C's past performance (or rather the lack thereof) and not on race.
I find it interesting that the AFC and PPP/C are both campaigning on promises of what they can do for the country. This might make sense of the AFC since they do not have a record of governance in Guyana. However, the PPP/C should be campaigning on their record over the past years instead of trying to convince the Guyanese that they will somehow influence change.
Isn't it ironic that the PPP/C has to use a platform of "change" and is promising improvement as a campaign strategy? If they plan to change anything, it would have to be their own policies and procedures since they are the ones who have been running the county for multiple terms now.
A "change" platform is traditionally reserved for a new party or a party that is different from the incumbent. If an incumbent party is promising change, they are actually saying things are so bad under their own governance that change needs to be enacted for the country to thrive.
A "change" platform for the PPP/C is basically a confession of poor governance. It is an admission that they have not done their job – and they are completely correct. Guyana does need change. It needs change desperately.
However, I do not see how the PPP/C expects to be able to bring about the necessary changes in the next five years when they have not been able to do so for the last few terms. They have tied their own hands so many times in almost every situation so they were unable to act in the best interest of the people.
Now the people are suppose to believe the leaders of the PPP/C have changed and will be looking out for their best interest in the next five years? If they want the people to believe such nonsense, the best way to prove their good intentions would be to publicly publish accessible personal financial records of those in the Jagdeo administration by the end of this week.
If they can prove they have been working in the best interest of the people instead of their own best interest for the last few terms, then I would gladly take back every single bad word I have ever said about this party. If they are indeed concerned about Guyana and have been financially, socially and politically ethical – they should have nothing to fear from public scrutiny.
In fact, in a democracy, public scrutiny of elected officials should be the norm. No one should have to even ask for such accountability. It should be expected and received as a matter of daily business. Of course, I am sure the Jagdeo administration, with their "ultra-democratic tendencies" already knew this.
However, dear reader, please do not hold your breath as you wait for the Jagdeo administration to publish their personal financial records. I'd like for you to be alive and well next week to cast your vote for a party that might actually be able to bring change to Guyana.