…from Indian elections
When it comes to India and China, the numbers that crop up when discussing their affairs are more than humungous – they’re literally mind-boggling, since no one can wrap their head around them. Excepting when it comes to electing their leaders. In China, the President and the State Council are elected by the National People’s Congress – made up of 2980 people – while Modi and the Cabinet he’ll form are elected by 900 MILLION persons!! That’s the difference between an authoritarian and democratic system!!
How the heck do you manage to collect and then count 900 million votes? With great organisation, and by sticking to the rules, that’s how!! Running democracies, we’re told, is a messy business – and nowhere is it more evident than in India’s elections campaigns. “Mud-slinging” isn’t just a figure of speech then!! But, to their credit, their violence levels haven’t ever approached those of our own Jamaica, where a high of 889 murders were committed during their 1980 elections!!
In India, the Elections Commission takes a hard line against incendiary speech, and obstreperous candidates are penalised promptly and heavily. With our particularly polarised politics, Guyana should take note. But the biggest takeaway from the Indian elections is that, unlike our local PNC, Indian politicians, by and large, accept the rules of the game and the verdict of the people. The Indian elections ended on Sunday, and in 4 days’ time, the elections results will be out!! And going by the tradition they’ve built since 1947, the results will be accepted – no matter how bitter the elections campaign.
But it’s not just in accepting the elections results that India differs from us – where every election the PNC lose they come out into the streets and wage violent protests — it also extends to the other rules of the game. Take their Elections Commission – it’s just three persons who’re appointed by their President on the PM’s recommendation. But there’s never been a time when the nominee – who’s always a senior career civil servant – has been accused of partisanship by the Opposition. These Commissioners can only be removed by Parliament. Maybe Guyana should imitate India in selecting Election Commissioners.
And there are other lessons for us. Back in 1999, the BJP Government of PM Vajpayee lost a no-confidence motion by 1 vote in their National Assembly – 269 to 270 of the Opposition. But rather than conjuring up half-men and half women, the Indian PM, accepted the verdict and resigned forthwith, and called elections. Compare this to the bitterness roiling our democracy after the PNC refused to accept the NCM of Dec 21.
The PNC’s fundamentally anti-democratic, and no Indian example can change that; just voting them out!!
…from the PNC
What said the PNC has no lessons for us?? There’s that lesson from Burnham – Beware the maximum leader!! Paraphrased, of course, from Burnham’s sister, Jessie’s pamphlet, “Beware my brother Forbes!!” Not many believed Jessie back in the day – certainly not David Granger, Burnham’s protégé from 1965! The man still burns a candle on his window sill for Burnham, as he swears to continue the latter’s “legacy”.
Another lesson from Burnham is not to steer economic development just at your own party’s supporters – just as Granger’s PNC are doing right now. The money for development, after all – whether loans or treasury funds – will come out of, or are repaid from, the pockets of all Guyanese, from their taxes, and should involve all Guyanese. And it’s not just a matter of morality or justice — not that we should scoff at that — it’s about giving the country its best shot at development by spreading the opportunity to all Guyanese, since talent is randomly distributed.
And all ships will be lifted!