Analysing coalition politics, plots

LAST week, the Alliance for Change (AFC) confirmed that it will not renew the Cummingsburg Accord it signed with the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) party.
The party cited major disagreements and unresolved issues within the coalition which led to its departure. Also, there was a need, according to the party, for the AFC to adopt its own positions on certain issues that it feels strongly about in the future.

It stressed that it would still work along with the APNU at the parliamentary level, once it retains the nine seats it was allotted in the aftermath of the 2020 Polls.
Leader of the Opposition Aubrey Norton, when asked about this development, said he is not “begging’” anybody to stay in the coalition, but indicated that he has not been “officially” informed of the AFC’s decision, to date.

Meanwhile, he asserts that the coalition is made up of other smaller parties, namely, the National Front Alliance (NFA), the Equal Rights and Justice Party (ERJP) and the Guyana Nation Builders Movement (GNBM).

And, the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) is moving ahead with its Civic alliance. It has issues, too; issues which started in 1992, but it is effectively managing and weathering the storm throughout.

For us to get an in-depth appreciation, it is necessary for a political analysis to take place.
Firstly, it is clear as day that Norton knew the AFC was leaving the coalition which he inherited from former President David Granger and former Opposition Leader Joseph Harmon.
He knew the signs were there, but skillfully and sheepishly did nothing, as he could be seen as more concerned about getting the PNC/R and its politics together in the event that the coalition falls apart.

After all, Norton has never been too excited about coalitions and national unity. But the circumstances in 2011 and 2015 warranted his compliance.
Maybe, Norton’s PNC does not see any usefulness in the AFC, now that they are out of Executive Government. He believes that the PNC/R is possibly stronger, now that the AFC is dead meat and spent, because it can never again win any election as a unit on its own.

Secondly, the AFC wants to be wrong-and- strong, as well as deceitful; it wants to retain the parliamentary seats it was allocated, and not be a part of the coalition group that won them in the first place.

Now, maybe, because of the 2020 elections fiasco and the issues it has with the leadership of APNU and PNC/R, it wants to seek alleged political independence.
But the real reason the AFC party is leaving and will not participate in the local government elections is none of these issues. The AFC is plagued by the politics of in-fighting and factionalism. The party needs to temper the ambitions of Khemraj Ramjattan, who, allegedly, only wants the party to stay in the good graces because he reportedly wants the Prime Ministerial post in the coalition alliance.

In any case, the AFC is making sure its seats are not in jeopardy this week, so it is meeting with Granger to get clarity and his approval before Norton strikes back.
Thirdly, Norton is being less than truthful when he speaks about what is left of the coalition when the AFC leaves. He knows that the only vibrant player that is worth any political usefulness is his PNC/R.

Additionally, the National Front Alliance headed by Keith Scott has always been a paper party and never contested any elections on its own, because it has no one that will vote for it.
Consequently, the ERJP and GNBM are led by former APNU+AFC coalition ministers Jaipaul Sharma and Tabitha Sarabo-Halley, respectively. Halley’s party is another paper party, and has never been tested, not even at local government polls, while Sharma’s party is the same.

Norton was in a different world if he thought that the public would drink that potion about him having discussions with the Working People Alliance (WPA) when it made its position pellucid following its experience in government.

Finally, the truth is, Norton is cornered, and the coalition is shattered and almost dead; it has no political worth now that the AFC has ditched it to focus on saving itself.
Norton is failing to unite the coalition, and it is becoming evident in the policy positions and people whom he has opted to lean on; people like Ganesh Mahipaul, Geeta Chandan-Edmond, Roysdale Forde, and Volda Lawrence.

The Opposition Leader is faced with a likely challenge, as persons in the diaspora and from Georgetown are plotting and scheming to have him replaced by the next Congress of the party. Carl Greenidge, Stanley Ming, Lawrence or even Granger are being contemplated.
The Opposition is spent, and there are no leaders to pass the baton to.

Also, they have made it clear, by their posturing and refusal to give young people a chance, that APNU+AFC is not a party or collective for youths or young leaders.

This exposes the fact that coalitions only work, in the context of Guyana, if they are for the purpose of coming together for elections; they fall apart because there is not a guiding or leading consensus candidate or political figure who has enough appeal, qualifications as well as political maturity to take on the big political giants.

Likely, the AFC and smaller parties saw this, and do not feel that Norton is such a candidate that can live up to the precedent set by Bharrat Jagdeo, Irfaan Ali or even Granger.
Coalitions here will only work seamlessly if you have a third-force party that comprises a mixture of all six races, political experience, and appropriate policy initiatives, and will not join either the PNC/R or PPP.

The future of coalitions looks dark and worrisome, given the current political climate.

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