The Liberty and Justice Party (LJP), A New and United Guyana (ANUG) and The New Movement (TNM) are aiming to change the political culture in Guyana.
The three small parties took a historic step by signing an agreement to combine their lists and votes at the March 2 general and regional elections.
At a joint press conference held at the Georgetown Cricket Club on Saturday, Presidential Candidate of TNM Dr Asha Kissoon made it clear that the combination of the lists is not a coalition but rather a collaboration which allows all three parties to ‘retain’ their identities.
Dr Kissoon noted that collaboration is a better option for Guyanese than a coalition. She believes it will break the racial barriers of voting in Guyana.
“For the very first time in Guyana, parties have come together to join their lists to compete in the national and regional elections, this decision has been made because we realize that we are stronger together than divided,” Dr Kissoon said.
Presidential Candidate of the LJP Lennox Shuman said the three parties were engaged in discussions for months before signing the agreement, however, he expressed disappointment that they were not able to join together with two other parties – the Citizen Initiative and Change Guyana.
Shuman said they are doing what is necessary to ensure the Guyanese “are not short-changed once again for another political cycle and to truly drive progressive and transformative ideas and solutions in Guyana.”
The three parties will be sharing resources to represent the people’s interest at the highest level of government.
Presidential Candidate of ANUG Ralph Ramkarran said the agreement will withstand any legal challenge.
The provision to join two or more lists is catered for in the country’s elections laws, namely Section 22 of the Representation of the Peoples Act.
“All you need to do is to write to the Chief Elections Officer and to say that you would like to form a combination of lists among these named political parties,” Ramkarran said.
He explained that the parties will be campaigning separately. Joining their lists does not mean that the parties are contesting the elections as a bloc; they are still going to the elections as separate parties.
After elections, the votes will be combined and then calculated and go towards the allocation of seats on Regional Democratic Councils and the National Assembly.
“Let us say that 5000 votes would earn a political party a seat, if the combination of lists that the political parties comprising that combination were together get 15, 000 votes, then that combination of parties will be entitled to three seats,” Ramkarran said.
It was also highlighted that the combination of lists will ensure that votes do not go to waste, however, the parties can only combine votes in the regions that they are contesting in together.
Ramkarran further explained that the combination list cannot exactly win the elections.
“The combinations list cannot technically win the elections in Guyana, the combination can get enough votes to give it a majority of the seats, but those seats would then have to be divided up within the three political parties unless one of those political parties obtain the plurality that party will win the elections.”
Another important factor, Ramkarran explained is the historic symbolism of three parties coming together which he explained places a lot of confidence and hope in the Guyanese people and will encourage them to come out on March 02 and vote.
Meanwhile, Shuman said that the PPP and APNU+AFC did not want ‘small parties’ to contest elections.
“Neither the PPP/C or the APNU+AFC wanted for any other parties to contest these elections because in October they set a nomination date and that nomination date was not announced until December and after they announced the nomination date they went ahead and change the forms,” Shuman explained.
The smaller parties had to then redouble their efforts just to be able to make it to nominations day.