With 33 seats, a PPP/C Gov’t cannot be successful if it monopolises governance

With 33 seats, a PPP/C Gov’t cannot be successful if it monopolises governance

Dear Editor,

The Political Stalemate: The 2020 election recount results have confirmed that there is a virtual political stalemate in Guyana. The PPP/C won with 50.69% of all the votes and 33 Parliamentary seats. The APNU+AFC got 47.34% of all the votes and 31 Parliamentary seats, and the LPJ, ANUG and TNM alliance got 1.13% of all the votes and 1 Parliamentary seat. All together, the parliamentary opposition parties and the other small and new Parties got 49.31% of all votes. The PPP/C’s margin of victory is just 1.38% and only one Parliamentary seat! This is not a large margin by any stretch of our imagination.

For the near future, neither the PPP/C nor the APNU/AFC could win any free, fair and transparent election by more than one or two seats or by more than one or two percentage points of total votes!

This stalemate has been evident since 2011. The PPP/C won 32 Parliamentary seats in 2011, 32 seats in 2015 and 33 seats in 2020. Together, the other Parties, primarily the APNU and AFC, won 33 seats in 2011, 33 seats in 2015 and 32 seats in 2020.

Over the 2011, 2015 and 2020 national elections, the PPP/C won an average of 49.5% of all votes and the other Parties, primarily the APNU and AFC, won an average of 50.5% of all votes – a difference of 1%!

Why is this happening? One of the main reasons is that there have been significant changes in the ethnic composition of the nation. According to the National Censuses, between 1966 (year of independence) and 2012, the Indian community decreased by 11%, the African community decreased by 2% and the Portuguese, Chinese and European communities decreased by 1.2%. On the other hand, the Amerindian community grew by 6% and the Mixed community grew by 8%.

However, aware of this significant growth of the Mixed and Amerindian communities, both the APNU+AFC and the PPP/C intensely campaigned in 2020 in these two communities. The PPP/C is believed to have won the support of 70% of all Amerindian voters and 33% of all Mixed voters. The APNU+AFC is believed to have won the support of 66% of all Mixed voters and 25% of all Amerindian voters. All the other Parties are believed to have won 5% of all Amerindian voters and 1% of all Mixed voters.

Winner-Takes-All is not a solution: With the political stalemate, the reality of the conundrum of inter-ethnic rivalry between the African and Indian communities, and unfair ethnic and class competition, most Guyanese realize that, based on their previous experiences, the solution is not an elective despotism (a winner-takes-all government), nor a dictatorship. Either situation would definitely widen ethnic and class disparities with grave consequences.

Unquestionably, there must continue to be free, fair and transparent national elections every five  years, so that every adult person from every ethnic community can express their preference for any political party.

However, neither a winner-takes-all PPP/C government nor a winner-takes-all APNU+AFC government could nationally unite Guyanese to develop national strategies [1] for building a diversified and sustainable economy, [2] for ending corruption, [3] for eradicating poverty in all ethnic communities,  [4] for tackling income inequality in each ethnic community, [5] for overcoming fears of public insecurity, [6] and for supporting the creation of jobs for every Guyanese in all ethnic communities.

These strategic issues impact the development and economic growth of the whole Guyanese nation. Therefore, what is essential is a national inclusive process for decision-making on the key national strategies.

In other words, there must be inclusive governance (not the government alone) that would ensure the government is accountable for implementing the national strategies, respects the rule of law, makes the best use of our natural resources, protects the environment, and effectively delivers the goods and services that all ethnic communities in Guyana expect.

In this inclusive governance, political parties and civil society organizations must fully participate.

Therefore, with thirty-three seats of the sixty-five seats in Parliament, a PPP/C Government cannot be successful if it monopolises governance. That would be a zero-sum situation like in the game of ‘Monopoly’ where whatever is gained by one player is lost by the other player(s). But a country’s society and economy is not a board game of winners and losers!

Yours faithfully,

Geoffrey Da Silva

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