Berbice Bridge and Votes
Guyanese political commentator GHK Lall, writing in Stabroek News (Nov 6), described the takeover of the Berbice Bridge by the government as an act of gimmickry that would not earn government votes. He was right. The results showed people voted race.
While people don’t want to pay higher tolls to cross the bridge, and the government has taken action to maintain tolls by nationalizing the bridge, the act would not have any effect on how people vote. There is traditional voting – which has not been disrupted except in 2011 and 2015 when Indians left the PPP and voted AFC. But most Indians Indians who voted AFC have returned to the PPP in 2018 saying the AFC has betrayed them. Africans have stuck it out with the PNC (APNU) since 1957.
I traveled around Guyana two weeks before voting on November 12 querying peoples’ views on the local government elections (LGE) and how they had planned to vote. There was little enthusiasm in the elections, and one of the reasons voters gave is broken promises of the government. Government has been on the defense following one disastrous policy action after another over the last 40 months. People lost faith in the government. It would take a lot of catching up for government to win back peoples’ confidence after so many faux pas or unforced errors or political blunders and its failure to unite the racially divided nation.
The coalition’s (APNU+AFC) support crested on a wave for political change in May 2015, but people started to move away from it after so many broken promises beginning with the $10K for a bag of paddy and insurance for destroyed crops. Current support for the PNC led government has been at its lowest. I found widespread dissatisfaction with and declining popularity of the coalition (APNU+AFC) government. There was also very low voter enthusiasm among traditional government supporters for last Monday’s local government elections (LGE) and little confidence in Gecom and its Chairman James Patterson. People feel he lacks the energy and capacity to manage the elections; often, he could not be found. The same is true for Keith Lowenfield. And people were uninterested in the elections. More Indians than Africans planned to vote.
With regards to the point GHK Lall made about voter support and the Berbice Toll Bridge, he is right that nationalizing the bridge would not earn the coalition any additional vote. People vote race. So the PNC or APNU would not get Indian votes.