Over the past two and a half years, the Peoples Progressive Party (PPP) has achieved a lot of success as far as rebranding itself is concerned. The party has also apparently changed the manner in which it conducts its internal business, with special emphasis and care being placed on modernizing its organizational structure to meet the changing demands of the country’s political culture.
Additionally, the party is also practising a new type of proactive politics, which is aimed at exposing the misgivings, incestuous corruption, injustices and wrongdoings of the current APNU/AFC Administration.
This perhaps is one of the most fundamental changes that the PPP has undergone since losing the elections. This change has resulted in the tone, style and substance of the party’s press conferences and media disclosures becoming more interesting and meaningful from the public’s standpoint. It has also caught the Government off-guard and has resulted in its high ranking officials facing enormous levels of embarrassment, public ridicule, and pressure whenever the PPP releases information about the APNU/AFC mishandling of the public’s business — especially the economy, which is still on a steady path of decline.
Internally, the PPP has been swift in changing its guards in the 10 administrative regions. It has embarked on a subtle course of replacing those respectfully ‘old’ stalwarts, who have toiled with the party over decades and are no longer capable of keeping up with the taxing demands of the changing body politic within their constituencies. The party has been quietly (and with their consent) promoting younger talent and members who are more capable of handling the affairs of their region in a manner that would see the party’s agenda advanced. It has been extremely careful in its selection of allies in this respect, and has so far managed to remain objective.
Also, since losing the elections, the PPP has avoided major internal rifts. The party appears more united and in sync. Its leaders, despite internal differences and quarrels, have avoided berating each other in the press and exposing their anger over policy differences for all to see. This is a most pleasing development, as it points to the party’s return to the ideological beliefs of Cheddi Jagan, who never supported the airing of one’s dirty linen in the corridors of the public. Jagan strongly believed that while all members were free to disagree and choose any medium for airing their disagreement, they were duty bound to think first about the damage their actions could have on the image and stability of the party in both the short and long terms.
More youths are also flocking the PPP than in previous years, as the APNU/AFC continue their march towards a dictatorial regime. Young people, especially professionals who are feeling stifled or wronged by the policies of the new regime, are slowing seeing the PPP as the only viable option and last frontier against the coalition’s attempts to steal their hard-earned freedoms, limited incomes, and democratic rights.
The PPP’s appeal has increased two-fold among hinterland youths and those young people who sat on the fence during the last elections, and much of this has to do with the party’s silent activism among young people in the various communities that have been neglected by the APNU/AFC coalition since it grabbed power in 2015.
Business people and leaders from a wide cross-section of civil society groups are also engaging the PPP with a view to restoring ties, as the level of executive lawlessness grows in the APNU/AFC camp.
Much of these gains must be credited to Bharrat Jagdeo and the small circle of trusted politicians that he has working with him around the clock to ensure that the party regains enough electoral support to win the next elections. Jagdeo has also developed a new approach of inclusivity and political maturity. He is engaging all of the party’s strongmen, including former Presidents Donald Ramotar and Sam Hinds, with a view to ensuring buy-in whenever sensitive decisions have to be made.
As General Secretary and Opposition Leader, Jagdeo continues to wield enormous influence over his comrades at all levels of the party’s structure. It is as if he were President all over again; and surprisingly, many who had concerns about Ramotar have given in to Jagdeo’s ideology. They trust him because he not only has proven his competence in both posts, but he is also working extremely hard to rebuild a party that had become one of the most negatively viewed by its membership and the electorate at various points and time in its history.
Jagdeo appears to have accurately calculated his formula for achieving success at the 2020 polls, because already this is increasing infighting in the Government and its coalition. The APNU/AFC are now convinced that it is possible for Jagdeo to win the next elections by a landslide, and so they are in panic mode. They are involved in all sorts of political overtures and machinations aimed at rebuilding lost ground, but at the expense of focusing on the mandate given to them by the electorate.
Next week, I will focus on the shortcomings of the party over the past two and a half years, and offer some critical insight regarding the personalities within its leadership that must die a natural political death in order for the party to live well past 2020.