AFTER the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) declared that the No-Confidence Motion (NCM) was valid, the APNU/AFC Coalition crumbled. Groping in the dark and bandying around issues to survive became the defining features of the Coalition. What emerged was a classic case of the idiom that the ship has sailed, an index of backwardness. The following would have had benefited the Coalition before March 2019. First, the reputation of the Coalition before the CCJ ruling had not been obliterated which the Coalition could have used on the campaign trail to redeem itself. Second, the arguments in courts to defeat the NCM should have been argued on the campaign trail. They would have been more believable. Third, the credibility of the Coalition before March 31, 2019, was still viable. The supporters had still pinned their hopes on the thought that the Coalition would get through a rough patch of governance. After that date, the Coalition was simply a living dead. Fourth, the suspect shenanigans that occurred in the 2015 general elections, with the same people at the helm in Guyana Election Commission (GECOM), would have been easier to repeat before March 2019, handing the Coalition a slim victory.
That said, the valid NCM led to events of survival never seen before in Guyana. David Granger used delaying tactics to break through Bharrat Jagdeo’s resistance to have Claudette Singh as the Chairperson of GECOM, ushering a perception that the now caretaker Coalition had a numerical advantage of 4-3 in GECOM. After this, the Coalition purported that the voting list used in the 2015 general elections and 2018 local elections was bloated by 200,000 names. The Coalition called for a new voter list through a house-to-house registration exercise, but the High Court ruled that the existing national register of registrants could not be changed or dismissed. In contrast, [the]PPP maintained that the voter list was reliable and credible because of security, vigilance, and political party representatives in GECOM. These events, along with silence from the elected Chairperson, cascaded the nation in noisome waters. The endless guessing game began about what was going on at GECOM. The echoes ranged from a conflict-habituated to a race-divided to a dysfunctional institution. But one concern remained constant: would the 2020 general elections be free and fair?
I argue that, from when the CCJ ruled that the NCM was valid, to the certification of the official list of electors (voting list), the seeds of rigging the March 2, 2020 general elections were planted. The Coalition woke up from bureaucratic inertia after the CCJ ruling and embarked on a journey of survival based on half-baked arguments. The Coalition’s initial position that the voting list used in the 2015 general elections and in 2018 local elections was undisputed, but the same list had become controversial after the NCM, exposed a double standard. The difference of using the same voting list, which is updated regularly, was that it brought the Coalition to power in 2015 but in 2018, it showed that the Coalition was losing power. Here was a situation where the Coalition was advocating for the citizenry to accept that it was easier for a blind man to thread a needle than to feed himself. It was not the credibility of the voting list that was in question, but rather the credibility of the Coalition’s claims, lacking au fiat.
Cumulatively, the arguments about a flawed voting list and suchlike from the Coalition had lost favour with public opinion. The arguments expanded our understanding of how frozen the inner sanctum of the Coalition was. First, the Coalition did not demonstrate that it possessed the right mechanisms for reading and understanding the mood of voters for the prospects of continued electoral success. By mid-2019, the Coalition had lost the once popular connection and confidence with its supporting base because of shabby governance. The Coalition, therefore, turned to GECOM to fill this loophole to retain power by unleashing a barrage of criticisms on the voting list. Viewed simply, the Coalition was asking GECOM to amass and secure the needed votes to remain in power. This move reminds me of someone in the US that fits the onomatopoeia, Eew.
Second, the Coalition refused or failed to understand the sociology of change among the citizenry, which interestingly, aided it to electoral “victory” in 2015. The citizenry had, for the most part, moved on from the days of ethnic loyalty and electoral rigging, bestowing them with greater freedom of expression. Guyana had turned the corner in conducting elections and joined the third wave of democracy in the developing world. The word rigging was hardly mentioned leading up to the 2015 general elections. Remarkably, we witnessed how politicians and citizenry had adopted to the social forces of electoral change that moved Guyana from the feelings of anxiety to electoral balm. Guyana had earned a comfortable place in the compound and citadel of democracy. This forward-looking position has been shaken up since March 2, 2020 because the Coalition opted for a closed proscriptive world of electoral practice by relying on planted sidekicks in GECOM rather than the will of voters to achieve victory (email@example.com).