Political commentator, Dr. Ralph Ramkarran says it is “unsafe to make any enduring political conclusions” from the results of the recently held Local Government Elections (LGE) and has highlighted the emergence of “some glaring issues.”
Writing in his weekly blog, “Conversation Tree” dated March 26, 2016, Ramkarran noted that these results should give “no political comfort” to the political parties.
“The PPP won 48 out of 71 NDC elections, similar to 1994 when it won 48 out of 65 and 28,000 more votes than the APNU+AFC. The APNU+AFC won 5 municipalities, the PPP 3 and 1 is a tie. The turnout at the local government elections was low, at least lower than the national elections, as occurs almost everywhere.”
He pointed out that the opposition, People’s Progressive Party’s (PPP) collapse in Georgetown confirms a long suspected notion that the party has lost support from the business, professional and some middle class. “Located in significant numbers, though not exclusively, in the city these groups appear to have supported some other party or group, or as is more likely, to have declined to vote. This would not be easily discerned in the rural areas where the PPP is strong. The overall low turnout and a result similar to that of 1994 would not indicate if any pockets of business and other middle class supporters stayed at home,” Ramkarran cited.
If his analysis is accurate, the Political Commentator pointed out that this would be the third successive elections that this section of PPP supporters has abandoned it. “To be truthful, they were always tentative… they migrated to the UF in the 1960s, may have migrated in part to the PNC in the 1970s and 1980s, although there are no accurate election results to determine this, and returned to the PPP in 1992. Thereafter some have supported the AFC or stayed at home,” the Former House Speaker concluded.
Turning his attention to the ruling APNU+AFC, Ramkarran said the LGE results show no breakthrough in PPP areas of support, noting too that the NDC results for the PPP, identical to 1994, “show no penetration by the APNU+APC in PPP areas as in 2011 and 2015.”
Interestingly, he posited that the results do not discourage the idea that the AFC has lost considerable ground. If this is so, he noted that “it would not be unusual for third parties in Guyana. The UF ceased to be an effective political force at the end of the 1960s. The mighty WPA, which never had the opportunity to prove its electoral strength because of electoral malpractice, has faded from view, leaving only the idealism of its founders.”
However, he pointed out that “these conclusions of necessity are tenuous because of the low turnout and the consciousness among voters that conclusive political opinions are not always expressed is in local government elections.”
Ramkarran said if the AFC fades and the Indian business, professional and other groups of the middle class remain alienated from the PPP, “the PPP will retain the advantage in national elections in a two-party race and could well be restored to office on a majority of fifty percent plus, assuming free and fair elections.”
However, “unless, of course, another and a different kind of third party, that would decline government office or power, takes up the challenge to represent the interests of the Guyana electorate in the National Assembly pledging to support the party with modernized programmes for social and economic justice and development, particularly for the poor and disadvantaged, based on constitutional reform designed to engender national unity,” he cited.
Ramkarran believes that disaffected PPP supporters, “tired of the sterile political confrontations of the past 50 plus years and anxious for a credible vision for the future in a united, peaceful, progressive, developing and stable country, would find it hard to resist such an appeal.”