IN any normal circumstances, whenever a political party loses power, even in a fragile democracy, the pattern is, first, to acknowledge the will of the people, and, second, to have a deep introspective look using the following W’s: where, when, why and what went wrong. This approach does not mean that the losing party would return to power but it would certainly prepare that party to be in a better position to win the next election, especially if the margin of defeat in the previous election was small. This is political science 101.
There have been a number of political parties around the world that have used the above approach to bounce back to power such as the Democratic Party in the United States and the St. Lucian Labour Party. In Guyana, the PPP/C exhibited what it took to return to power by using its time in the opposition to regroup and eventually, capture the government in 2020. To wit, after being pushed into a minority government in 2011 and “lost” the 2015 general elections, PPP/C regrouped and launched an effective programme to return to power by connecting closely with the Guyanese community as well as taking the then APNU+AFC coalition government to task for not living up to the sound and fair governance promised by its beleaguered politicians. The outcome was that the PPP/C was able to regain much support it had lost in 2015 while the coalition buckled under consistent pressure from the likes of Bharat Jagdeo and Anil Nandlall.
One would expect the APNU+AFC opposition to catch on to some strategies the PPP/C used while in opposition, because, frankly speaking, the political landscape, the expectations of voters as well as the fate and face of Guyana share more similarities than differences. Whatever works for one political party to bring it to power might very well work for another political party. What is different is the journey to successful leadership. The borrowing of ideas from each other is not a regular thinking of our dear politicians in dear Guyana. They rather, as seen in the case of the opposition, even when succor is needed, prefer to navigate the strictures of their own unbridled political domain commonly known as “jungle” politics.
So we ask, you the opposition, what is your plan for Guyana? If you are governed by whims and caprices who prefer ethnic bigotry and partisan disposition celebrated by undeserved backwardness and mediocrity, we still need to know. This is the conclusion through careful deductive assessment. We suggest further that if there are some tinderbox impulses at the nerve centre of opposition that prevent it from functioning, this is the time to walk and talk. Instead of playing up to the political gallery of concealing schisms, the opposition needs to re-route its thinking by leveling with its supporters, in particular, and Guyanese in general. The nation is ready, as so declared in the dailies, to settle on even a half-baked mutually agreed sort of plan from the opposition. Any deviation from the above reality check is a ticket to remain in the opposition for a long time to come. Commonsense would lead to declaring that whatever the opposition was doing, despite how great, while in government, would not work when out of government. So we know what the opposition’s plan was when in government but we do not know its plan now as an opposition. The longer the opposition takes to come off its cozy chamber to declaring a plan to Guyanese, the harder it would become to sell its plan to the nation. It does not get any more simplistic than this.
The main hiccup, I reckon, within the opposition is the sandstorm of resistance to accepting that it lost the March 2, 2020, general election, and in so doing, has brought unnecessary heat onto itself. The opposition has been trapped in its own boiler, gravitating towards anomie. What the resistance has validated is that the opposition is willing to accept only victory at the polls even if that means attempts to rig the general elections all over again in front of thousands watching in person and on social media. What should be worrisome to any normal individual is that rigging of elections is a cardinal sin that is really a continuum for the riggers. To these pro-riggers, elections and the voters’ right to declare their feelings at the polls are simply a decorative decorum of democracy. It is their duty to rig. The question is, what can we do as a nation to forestall future attempts to rig elections in Guyana? I know the PPP/C, in conjunction with regional and international partners, is working hard to have the right mechanisms in place to ensure free and fair elections in Guyana. This is a step in the right direction, but the million-dollar question is, would the people who are entrusted to carrying out their duties impartially and morally, do so? We can only know the answer to this question when the day arrives. Meanwhile, we are waiting patiently for any plans from the APNU+AFC opposition to move Guyana forward. (firstname.lastname@example.org).