LGE in June are a political nightmare for Opposition

The President last Saturday was in Region Three, inspecting infrastructure work. At the same time, the Prime Minister and almost half of the Cabinet Members were on the East Coast, with outreaches in Victoria and surrounding communities. On Sunday last, the President, the VP, and almost the whole Cabinet were at Babu Jaan to pay tribute to Cheddi and Janet Jagan. Thousands were there to celebrate two inspiring lives, clearly embracing the notion of Cheddi Jagan as the Father of the Nation.
These events add to the trauma and anxiety of Aubrey Norton, the PNC, the AFC, and the WPA. They know that these events serve as a barometer for the soon-to-be-held LGE, and how much disdain their own supporters hold for them. They know that the PPP’s popularity in traditional and non-traditional support areas has never been higher.
Ten weeks from now, LGE 2023 will be held. Already, the AFC and the WPA have cowered out of the elections. The PNC is in a bind, desperately searching for a way out, facing a horrendous dilemma. The PNC is fearful that boycotting the elections would mean that, in their traditional strongholds, the PPP will take full control if the PNC does not contest. Contest across the country, and it will take a brutal whipping, totally rejected by the people; or boycott and give up control in the few NDCs and municipalities it has any chance of maintaining control.
The PNC’s greatest fear is that in its traditional strongholds, such as Linden, Georgetown, New Amsterdam, Buxton, Victoria, etc., the PPP will make inroads and expose the PNC’s weakness among the electorate. It is for this reason that some of their leaders want to boycott the elections. But this move would mean that the PPP would take control.
The PNC is between the proverbial rock and a hard place. All the signals at this juncture point to an overwhelming PPP victory in LGE 2023. It would not be shocking that, in certain municipalities the PPP has never won, this time around the PPP emerges as the winner, whether the PNC contests or not. New Amsterdam is one such place. But the PPP is likely to make serious inroads in Georgetown, Linden and Bartica. In the last Local Government Elections in 2018, the PPP won 65% of all the seats up for grabs.
The way things look right now, the PPP is likely to win even more seats than it did in 2018. It would not be shocking if the PPP wins in excess of 70% of all the seats available in LGE 2023. Just as the LGE 2018 signalled victory at the 2020 elections, it is unlikely, almost impossible, for the PNC to overcome the trashing it is likely to endure in LGE 2023. Norton himself is trembling in his boots as the LGE 2023 gets closer and closer, because the LGE is a referendum, not just on the PPP’s term in government so far, but also on the leadership of Aubrey Norton.
The WPA and the AFC know that the people of Guyana, including the less-than-a-handful who remain as their supporters, do not, in any way, believe the reasons the WPA and the AFC have given for opting out of LGE 2023. The AFC claimed it cannot contest with the existing voters’ lists. The WPA claimed its non-participation is resistance to the PPP Government. The real reason for the WPA’s non-participation is that there is genuine doubt it can put up a slate in a single community in this country. It tried to hold two public meetings, in collaboration with the PNC, in Mocha and Buxton. Other than themselves, no one came out to listen to them. If the WPA shamelessly tried to show it is still alive, the AFC is even more morbidly scared of any public event, because it knows that such a gamble would expose how prophetic Khemraj Ramjattan was when he predicted that any concubine relationship with the PNC would leave it as “dead meat”. The AFC, much like the WPA, is a dead party.
The PNC is in an even more invidious circumstance. Like the WPA and the AFC, the PNC would very much like to navigate its way out of LGE 2023. It knows it would be brutally trashed in LGE 2023. It is having a horrendous problem finding candidates willing to go on its list in many communities. Even in its traditional strongholds, many of its staunch activists are reluctant to be listed on the PNC slate. No one wants to be a loser, and in every which way, the PNC looks like and feels like a loser.
The PNC’s resort to race politics is a desperate ploy to hold on to some sort of meaningful support. Participation in LGE 2023 is a risk it does not want to take, but its options are limited. Non-participation means that the next mayors of Georgetown, New Amsterdam, and Linden are PPP mayors. It is a thought too dreadful for Aubrey Norton to contemplate. He therefore is forced to participate, knowing that the results would create discourse as to the PNC’s capacity to remain one of the two major parties in Guyana. One thing for certain is that, after LGE 2023, there would be only a single major party in Guyana. The destruction of the PNC would be Norton’s legacy.