The latest survey conducted in January by this writer for the North American Caribbean Teachers Association (NACTA) on updated voter support reveals that the ruling PPP/C Administration will make significant gains in Local Government Elections 2023. A ruling party the world over including in Guyana tends to do poorly in mid-term elections as happened in 2016 and 2018. But the ruling PPP is expected to buck this trend in 2023, picking up seats and Local Governments.
The projected political gains are attributed to the performance of the Government over the last two and a half years and the high approval numbers of the Government and the President and his Cabinet and the latest (2023) budget which found approval among some 88% of the population (based on a survey).
The Local Government Election was scheduled for March 2023 but put off to an unannounced date because of issues relating to registration of voters. GECOM has been undergoing Continuous Registration to update the voters’ list. When the registration process is updated in a few months, a date for LGE is expected to be announced by the Local Government Minister after consultation with GECOM.
Based on findings of surveys conducted by NACTA last December and November and published in the media, the incumbent PPP was projected to sweep the elections slated for March. But the election was postponed to an unspecified date. A new survey conducted over the last couple weeks (late January) discovered similar findings to the earlier polls – a landslide PPP victory.
(The poll interviewed 570 individuals – 40% Indians, 30% Africans, 19% Mixed, 10% Amerindians, 1% others – reflecting the demographic composition of the population. It was analysed at a 95% confidence level. There is a margin of error of +/- 5%).
Based on the findings, voter turnout is projected to be significantly lower than in the March 2020 elections. Voter apathy runs high with less than half of the eligible voters expressing an interest to cast ballots. There is disgruntlement in the camps of both major political parties, but it is more significant in the Opposition PNC encampment where the party’s political leader suffers from very high unfavourability ratings. Mr Aubrey Norton has nil support among supporters of the PPP and is struggling for approval even among PNC supporters. In contrast, President Ali has high favourability ratings throughout the country, including among PNC supporters. The public praises President Ali for his regular outreaches while Norton hardly engages the public. (The Opposition AFC announced it will not contest LGE).
According to the poll’s findings, the PNC (APNU) is not making gains in any section of the country and in fact has been losing ground to the ruling PPP. Discontented supporters of the PPP are not crossing over to any party, saying the PNC is not an alternative to the PPP. Respondents in the poll say the PNC has not displayed any significant presence in any area, not even in its constituencies, and comes across to the public as unorganised and in disarray. The PPP has foot soldiers on the ground organising its supporters, preparing and sensitising them for LGE.
The survey shows PPP retaining support in its strongholds and making inroads in traditional opposition PNCR strongholds in urban as well as in rural constituencies. On the basis of the opinion poll, PPP/C is projected to win an overwhelming number of the 80 local entities — 70 NDCs and 10 municipalities or towns. It will be the largest electoral victory of a party in democratic Local Government Elections in the history of the country.