…with majority no-confidence vote
Guyana hadn’t even recovered from the shock of AFC’s Charrandas Persaud voting his conscience — to throw out the PNC-led Government and force elections to be scheduled in three months — when Nigel Hughes claimed that the 33 “yes” votes against 32 “no” votes in a 65-member House didn’t constitute a “majority” to carry the no-confidence motion!!
This, of course, wasn’t pointed out between 2011 and 2015, when APNU and AFC pooled their 33 votes in the House to vote down several PPP bills when the latter only had 32 votes. That allowed them to select the Speaker and heads of several standing committees, since they had the “majority”. Since 2015, they have had a joint 33 seats to the PPP’s 32, and have passed any number of bills and motions in the House via their majority. Those majorities were okay.
…But now that the PNC-led APNU/AFC Government has fallen – and this has been accepted by President Granger and PM Moses Nagamootoo as well as any number of ambassadors, who complimented us on our acceptance of “democratic” norms — up comes this objection in what becomes an effort to throw a spanner into the works. Hughes’s suggestion of course throws a lifeline to the drowning coalition Government, which will grasp at any straw; but he’s just beating a dead horse – one which is even deader that the AFC’s “dead meat”!!
Listen to Hughes’s argument to parse the critical Art 106(6), which states, “The Cabinet, including the President, shall resign if the Government is defeated by the vote of a majority of all the elected members of the National Assembly on a vote of confidence”
“There are sixty-five members of the House. Mathematically, one half of the house is 32.5 members. There is no such thing as a half-member, so half of the house is 33 members. This is because you have to round up to identify half of the house. For a no-confidence motion to pass and be valid, the motion has to enjoy more votes that one half of the full House, i.e: 34 votes. The House voted 33:32. Thirty-three is a rounding down of what constitutes half of the House. The motion consequently was not carried.”
Sadly, bright as Hughes may be, the premise of his argument falls for any number of reasons. Firstly, he’s conveniently conflating “categorical” and “continuous” variables for his argument. While, “mathematically”, half of 65 is 32.5, people aren’t a “continuous” variable like, say, temperature means something. Even Hughes himself concedes there is no such thing as “half people” – so his creation of 32.5 people, which he then rounds off upwards, is meaningless to begin with!!
It’s like the ancient scholastics counting the number of angels on the head of a pin!!
…And ignoring reality
The “conundrum” Hughes presents, therefore, is an artifice of his own creation! With “categorical” units like people, “majority” simply means “more than” the other portions combined. In an even number of categorical units, the majority is one more than the mathematical half. For odd numbers, the total is MATHEMATIALLY divided and the next WHOLE number upwards becomes the majority. It’s pure sophistry to divide 65 MPs to arrive at 32.5 MPs and then say, “There is no such thing as a half member, so half of the House is 33 members”!!
If one 32.5 is rounded up to become 33 and called “half”, what happens to the other 32.5 that becomes 32? Are some halves, when they are PNC, of greater value than other halves, when they are PPP?
The case cited by Hughes was on the determination of a quota which is not equivalent to a majority, and in any case also didn’t make the distinction between “categorical” and “continuous” variables.
Try another “thing”!
…On post no-confidence vote
One commentator claims Charrandas Persaud will form his own party. Your Eyewitness hopes he realises his hero halo will quickly be vaporised in the rough-and-tumble of the elections hustings!!