Now that Nomination Day is over, we know that there are thirteen parties – down from the nineteen that had declared their intention and symbols – that will be contesting the March 2 General and Regional Elections. It is possible by tomorrow that number may be further reduced since the GECOM Secretariat would have scrutinised the lists for duplications and other transgressions of the rules of the nomination process.
Only three of the parties were able to field candidates in all ten regions and as such claim to be “national” parties. Ironically, the party that joined the PNC-led APNU/AFC and the PPP/C was the URP, which has been around since 1992 but has never been able to garner even close to the number of votes to match the number of signatures which allowed them to compete. It is very unlikely that any of the other new parties would be able to better the URP’s abysmal performance.
But what might encourage them to continue with their seemingly quixotic effort is the role that such other insignificant entities, such as Keith Scott’s National Democratic Party, which was absorbed by the PNC-played to allow the latter to claim “national representation”. They are actuated by the cold calculus of power and actually undermine the necessity for actual democratic legitimacy based on popular support. Can anyone with a straight face say that APNU’s five “parties” and the AFC represent Guyana’s diversity equitably?
We are therefore left with a race in which there are only two parties going into the stretch. On one hand, we have the PNC which seems determined to continue with the charade of inclusivity built with smoke and mirrors of one-man parties. And on the other, we have the PPP, which has eschewed that patently offensive ploy to hoodwink the Guyanese populace. As their Candidate Irfaan Ali informed the latter at their campaign launch, the PPP is using the model of the original PPP, which was founded “three scores and ten years ago”.
To wit, to enter this game-changing election – equivalent to the 1953 one which heralded the political independence movement but this time promising economic independence with the onset of oil – with an agglomeration of like-minded young, bright minds that are more au fait with the demands of a globalised millennium economy. Unlike the absorption of a welter of paper parties that are silenced by the disequilibrium of size between them and the PNC, the PPP’s approach to garner young professionals from across the divides, who bring diverse views to the table where the “old heads” act as mentors, creates a cohesive force that can take Guyana forward.
Even though it could not have been easy, the PPP has convinced most of their old guard that the old must make way for the new, while still retaining a contributory role. This approach obviates the need for the debilitating manoeuvrings within the PNC-led coalition of the various “partners” to jockey for influence – and even attention – from the PNC. The PPP has always been very open about the ancillary nature of their Civic component, which provides a base for those individuals “from various classes and strata” who have not become members of the party, to work together with them.
After experiencing five years of the PNC-model of Government for Guyana, the people are in a position to gauge the aptness of the vehicle their country needs at this juncture. Just as in biology, in politics, form dictates function. It should be self-evident to most open-minded Guyanese that a government that is pulling in two or more directions cannot accomplish what is necessary for the transformation of their long-suffering country. The disgraceful episode where David Granger toyed with Khemraj Ramjattan like a cat playing with a mouse, on whether he would or would not be the Prime Ministerial candidate as was explicitly agreed to, does not give much confidence on what lies ahead if their coalition were to continue in office.