Guyanese Want Elections to settle Constitutional Crisis

An opinion poll conducted by the North American Caribbean Teachers Association (NACTA) over the last week found that the nation wants elections to be held right away to settle the constitutional crisis that emerged following the passage of the no confidence motion of December 21. The poll revealed that a large majority of voters and almost the entire business community are worried about the political uncertainty prevailing in the country following the passage of the no confidence motion of last December 21.

Guyanese Want Elections to settle Constitutional Crisis
Photo : Dr. Vishnu Bisram

An opinion poll conducted by the North American Caribbean Teachers Association (NACTA) over the last week found that the nation wants elections to be held right away to settle the constitutional crisis that emerged following the passage of the no confidence motion of December 21. The poll revealed that a large majority of voters and almost the entire business community are worried about the political uncertainty prevailing in the country following the passage of the no confidence motion of last December 21. This large majority of voters and the business community are of the view that the government lost the no confidence motion and that it should have resigned and set a date for holding elections as mandated by the constitution. People are disappointed that the government is not adhering to the laws of the constitution and worldwide democratic conventions that a government resigns and hold elections when it loses a no confidence motion. People say the no confidence motion was successfully passed (with a majority of 33 out of 65 memebrs of parliament). The majority of voters would like to see an early election (within the constitutional deadline) to settle the issue of the no confidence vote and to avoid an impending constitutional crisis. The population say they are concerned that government’s refusal to resign and hold elections sends a wrong signal threatening democracy.

The poll, using intercept contact interview method, began over a week ago and is being conducted by social scientist Dr. Vishnu Bisram who has been conducting opinion polls internationally for almost thirty years. The poll has been interviewing potential voters (502, thus far) at random to represent the demographics (41% Indians, 30% Africans, 18% Mixed, 10% Amerindians, 1% others) of the population.

Based on the findings of the ongoing poll (thru Friday Feb 22), 65% of the population are concerned (as opposed to 28% who are not and 7% offering no opinion) about the political situation in which the government has refused to accept the outcome of the no confidence vote. Many say it sets the stage for authoritarianism as existed under the Burnham and Hote dictatorships between 1966 and 1992.

Asked if they feel the government lost the no confidence vote, 62% said yes, with 23% saying no and 15% not offering an opinion (or not sure). In short, the majority feels that 33 constitute a majority out of 65 members of parliament.

The majority of voters say the government should resign and immediately set a date to hold snap general and regional elections within the stipulated time frame (as stated in the constitution) in order to settle the political uncertainty that has hit the nation over the last two months. Asked if the government should resign, 61% said yes with 30% saying no and 9% not expressing an opinion.

Asked if government should call an election now, 67% said yes, 25% said no and 8% not sure (or offered no opinion). Many say the government should not be afraid to call an election and that it is in its advantage to adhere to democratic principles.

The poll also queried voters on other topical issues. The findings will be released in a subsequent report.