A poll conducted by this writer for the North American Caribbean Teachers Association (NACTA) earlier this month showed the Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) winning the next general election if it is free and fair. But a large majority of voters also expressed fear that the next election may be rigged noting that the People’s National Congress (PNC) – which now dominates the coalition Government – never allowed a free and fair election or its sole referendum (July 1978) when it governed between 1964 and 1992.
The latest opinion survey – with 430 respondents reflecting the demographics of the country – shows widespread dissatisfaction with the governance of the A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) coalition in virtually every area measured. And a large majority also said the Government and the country is moving in the wrong direction. Voters say the coalition has turned out to be the exact opposite of their expectation when they voted out the PPP for its arrogant ways. Voters say they can’t wait for the next election to send a clear message to the PNC dominated coalition.
When asked if a general election were to be held now, which party they think would win, 57 per cent (including many who said they will still vote for the coalition) said the PPP is most likely to get the most votes. But it is not clear the PPP can command a majority in Parliament as many (who previously voted for it) are distrustful of it saying they fear the party could return to its old hubristic ways of governance. Many voters said they feel betrayed by the Alliance For Change for jumping in bed with the PNC and not demanding the enforcement of the Cummingsburg Accord. These and other voters say they would support a genuine “third force” to serve as a balance for good governance, which the AFC has failed to carry out because of political opportunism. So there is scope for a third party.
The poll’s findings show voters are divided on who should be the Presidential nominee of the PPP. The overwhelming choice, among PPP supporters, as Presidential candidate is former President Bharrat Jagdeo with the former President having some support among disenchanted supporters of the AFC and APNU. But if he is unable or unwilling to run for the presidency, party supporters are split on the prospective nominee among Gail Teixeira, Irfaan Ali, Anil Nandlall, Frank Anthony and others with no overwhelming favourite rivalling the popularity of Jagdeo.