The latest North American Caribbean Teachers Association (NACTA) opinion poll reveals widespread discontentment with the coalition APNU+AFC government. The government has received its lowest approval rating since it came into office 42 months ago -- attributed largely to its failure to combating crime, handling the economy, eliminating corruption, and a sleuth of other factors. Voters are also displeased with the 2019 budget approved by Parliament a week ago with a large majority saying they don’t think it will lead to any significant improvement in their lives. People lack confidence in their future well being. The poll also reveals that people are concerned that the government is using SOCU as a political weapon to target PPP politicians for criminal investigations and charges. More of the nation disapproves than approve of the job the government, President, Prime Minister, and Speaker are doing. The latest poll findings arrive on the heels of a local election that saw big gains for the opposition PPP even in government strongholds.
The poll was conducted by Dr. Vishnu Bisram in mid-December with respondents interviewed at random to reflect the demographics of the population. NACTA has been conducting surveys in Guyana since 1990.
The findings of the survey show that government’s policies have been having a terrible impact on public perception. As the coalition government closes out 2018, its approval rating stands at a mere 23%, the lowest in its history, with a disapproval of 69% and no rating 8%. The President (David Granger) and the Prime Minister’s (Moses Nagamootoo) approval ratings are 40% and 38% respectively, trailing that of the Opposition Leader (Bharrat Jagdeo) who soars at 62%. Granger and Nagamootoo have a disapproval rating of 50% and 53% respectively. Jagdeo has a disapproval of 31%.
Respondents cite poor governance, the economy, corruption, arrogance of officials, declining standard of living, health, joblessness, inflation, impoverishment, drug trafficking, and crime, among other grouses as reasons for low approval rating. They say Jagdeo did a better job than the government in managing the economy when he was President and in performing his task as Opposition Leader.
Almost everyone complains about crime, state of the economy and related matters, and corruption. And a large majority, particularly Indians and Amerindians, also complains about perceived racism and victimization. Some 82% of respondents described the state of the economy as bad and likely to get worse.
Asked to choose the most serious problem facing country, 38% identify crime followed by unemployment (20%), economic issues (18%), corruption (10%), health (6%). The government seems to find some favor in its handling of infrastructure and education although people complain about corruption in public works.
Asked if they think the 2019 budget will improve their life, only 14% said yes with 79% saying no and 7% having no comment. Almost everyone complains about deteriorating conditions of life in Guyana with just a few confident in their future well-being even though oil money is on the horizon.
When asked if they have an opportunity to migrate to USA, 90% said yes.
Asked if they are surprised at the LGE outcome, 78% said no, 6% said yes, with the others not offering a comment.
Asked if they think government is using SOCU to target leading PPP political figures with criminal charges, 60% said yes, 28% said no, and 12% no opinion.
Asked if they think the Speaker (Barton Scotland) is biased/partisan (against the opposition PPP) in his rulings, 56% said yes with 28% saying no and the others (16%) not offering a response. Asked if they feel the Speaker should relinquish the position or be replaced 57% said yes with 26% saying no and 17% not sure.
Asked who should be the PPP Presidential candidate, Irfaan Ali, Anil Nandlall, and Frank Anthony resonated as the main contenders among voters. Some other names mentioned with minimal support included Dr. Vindya Persaud, Shyam Nokta, Charles Ramson (Jr), and Gail Texeira. None of the prospective nominees has majority support on the ground among the PPP base. But one candidate appears to have a majority (or close to it) among the party’s Central Committee of 35 members who will choose the nominee. And supporters of both parties (and the coalition APNU+AFC) feel if former President Bharrat Jagdeo could run again, he would most certainly gain the PPP nomination unopposed and carry the party to a landslide victory. Jagdeo remains the most popular political figure in the country. Voters would like Jagdeo to guide the Presidential nomination selection process, endorse the PPP candidate, and mentor him or her.
Separately, respondents in the poll expressed no surprise at the outcome of last November local government elections (LGE) in which the PPP won a landslide against APNU and AFC. Asked if they are surprised at the LGE outcome, 78% said no, 6% said yes, with the others not offering a comment. Voters have been disappointed with the governance of the coalition.
The survey also finds the nation overwhelmingly rejecting the controversial position of PNC Chair Volda Lawrence that “only PNC supporters (meaning only Africans) should be hired by the government. Volda’s position on government hiring of only (African) PNC supporters is endorsed by a mere 4%. The Health Minister has backtracked on her controversial position.