Usually, when I read a report or column that says a certain party or candidate will win an election, I look forward for poll numbers and/or reasons for forming such a conclusion. The recent report purportedly issued on December 6 by the US Congressional Research Service (CRS) on Guyana elections did not cite any polls, and neither did it offer reasons why it feels a party will be victorious or defeated at the next elections. Thus how does one interpret the CRS report? Can it be taken seriously?
This missive explains the concept of a CRS report. Those of us who study the US Congress in Political Science courses (especially at the doctoral level) would have some in-depth knowledge of how Congress functions, and the role of the Congressional Research Service (CRS). The CRS is a huge library staff that functions out of the US Library of Congress. Its task is primarily to provide research to Members of Congress or any of its several Committees on any issue, or about a country. Any member or Committee can request a report on an issue or about a country; the CRS prepares the report.
It seems that some staff of the CRS prepared a report on Guyana (on its coming elections). It is a broad, general report; it has not provided any reasons why it feels a political party would win or lose the March 2 election.
The CRS report is not found at the Library of Congress. It does not say why it was released, nor which member of Congress or committee requested it. It can be requested by a member in his (her) private capacity. In fact, Members of Congress (MOC) usually request such a report to get an understanding of political issues in a country when he or she is lobbied to issue a statement.
In this case, no Member of Congress issued a report on Guyana on the March 2 elections, so why it is in the public domain is unknown.
The report is replete with errors. It says Guyana is holding a plebiscite (a referendum or vote to change a constitution), but Guyana is not holding a plebiscite; it is holding a general election to choose a government.
The report refers to Bharrat Jagdeo as a former Prime Minister; Jagdeo is a former President. The report does not cite any source for its conclusion, it states that “some analysts feel” a party will win or lose, but it does not name any of the analysts.
Who are they? I conducted opinion surveys that were published in the media, but the findings were not cited. A Google perusal (search) of the media does not reveal any analyst or poll showing or stating a victory for any party, except a recent commentary by one Prof Evan Ellis of the War College, who is quoted as saying that he concludes that the Opposition would win.
There is also a disclaimer in the report, saying it should not be relied upon for purposes other than understanding of an issue by members of congress, as provided by staff.
One positive aspect of the report is it calls for free and fair elections; that is welcomed.
Dr Vishnu Bisram