AFC defends poor showing at LGE

– says performance will not impact Cummingsburg negotiations

While the Alliance For Change (AFC) believes the Local Government Elections (LGE) has not weakened its clout against its coalition partner, the results tell a story of a party that failed to mount a credible challenge on its own.

Returning Officer (Georgetown), Duarte Hetsberger

LGE 2018 was intended to be a test run for the 2020 General and Regional Elections. With the AFC trying to have the Cummingsburg Accord revised while being steadily weakened in its ministerial portfolios, sources have posited that the election results can only mean more bad news for the smaller coalition party.
Returning Officer (Georgetown), Duarte Hetsberger, announced on Tuesday that the AFC came third in the municipality of Georgetown. They got 3059 votes and two seats from the Proportional Representation (PR) component.
They trail the People’s Progressive Party, which got 7050 votes and four seats. The A Partnership for National Unity received 18,127 votes, in the process attaining nine seats. Overall, APNU has 21 seats on the City council, while PPP has seven.

AFC’s Region Four campaign coordinator Michael Leonard

The AFC just has the two seats it gained from the PR component and did not muster enough First Past the Post (FPTP) votes to get an additional seat at a Council that once produced two AFC Deputy Mayors. When asked about these results, AFC’s Region Four campaign coordinator Michael Leonard said his party’s votes still mattered.
“I’m not sure if I should say something went wrong. The APNU/AFC contested the last time in 2016, as a coalition. They were obviously riding the success of 2015, so there was no true test to see what the constituency of the AFC versus the APNU is.”
“This time we ran alone,” Leonard continued. “And I think we did relatively well. We know now what we can attract. We know where we are. I don’t have an issue with that. We got two seats off our own strength.”
He was not too worried about the potential impact on AFC’s ability to negotiate better terms in the Cummingsburg accord. Leonard pointed out that from the results rolling in, APNU still needs the AFC.
“It is very clear from the results across the country that the APNU by themselves cannot defeat the PPP. So it seems the coalition is very necessary. And we’ve said before that we believe in coalition politics.”
“So I don’t see anything changing or happening with the Accord. If what puts you over the threshold to get the Presidency or the majority is one vote, then it’s one vote. Every vote counts. Every seat counts.”
Leonard acknowledged that the overall voter turnout was very low. He observed that more middle-aged persons than youths came out to vote. As such, Leonard pointed to voter apathy and disinterest.
But AFC had put much focus on youths in the campaign, including as many youth on their platform as possible. Asked about their mobilisation efforts among the youths, the campaign manager said their 3000 votes was still significant.

Besides Georgetown, the AFC has come up short in several other areas. For instance in Lethem, preliminary results of the 1334 valid votes show that the PPP secured 676 with three of the five PR seats, while APNU got 528 votes and the remaining two seats. The residents of the municipality deemed the AFC ‘unfit and improper’ after they only managed to scrape 130 votes and no seat on the Town Council.
Lethem was officially declared a township in October 2017 and was being headed by APNU’s Kerry Jarvis as Mayor. However, Jarvis was unable to retain his seat, with PPP’s Jason Wilson pulling the seat from under him. Of the 10 seats up for grabs in the municipality, the PPP now has six and APNU, four. PPP also dominated in Rose Hall, Corriverton and Anna Regina municipalities.
The AFC has been coming in for much criticism, especially from the parliamentary Opposition, for what many describe as the submissive role it has been playing since joining forces with APNU.
The AFC top leadership had, in mid-November last year, moved to revise its governing agreement with its majority coalition partner. The Cummingsburg Accord, the arrangement which guides the two partners, has a lifespan of a minimum of three years and maximum of five years.
The Accord was focused primarily on the General and Regional Elections. However, a stalemate ensued after the two sides could not come to terms on several policies, resulting in a split.