PPP Should Give Civic Autonomy to improve Electoral Chances

PPP Should Give Civic Autonomy to improve Electoral Chances

Photo : Vishnu Bishram

Social commentator, Sean Ori, has advised that PPP/C "to regroup and rethink its strategy" to improve its prospects of returning to office in 2020 in Guyana. So far, the PPP has not displayed a credible strategy at winning the next general election or in expanding its political base which has been confined primarily to Indians and some Amerindians. More of the same strategy will not win an election having tied in 2011 and 2015. The party needs to do something differently and be creative in improving its chance at the poll -- like teaming up with other opposition forces as the PNC did in 2011 and 2015 that led to its capturing the government. The PPP feels confident it will be victorious on its own in 2020 because of the mis-governance of the APNU+AFC that has resulted in widespread disgruntlement even among its own supporters. But historically disenchanted PNC supporters had never voted for the PPP and there is no evidence they will do so in 2020.

Ori is right in stating that PPP will not win the next general election if it is relying exclusively on the countless errors (bad governance) made by the ruling APNU+AFC coalition. The PPP feels disenchanted PNC supporters will gravitate towards the former. It did not happen in the past and there is no evidence it will happen in 2020. People don't vote on governance issues but on ethnicity although Indians turned against the PPP and voted it out of office for neglecting the Indian community. In 1992, after 28 years of bad governance PNC supporters did not abandon their natural party. And so far, the PNC (APNU) support remains strong in its African/Mixed base, and there is no evidence that the party is losing its traditional support inspite of all the errors and widespread corruption. The PPP has not been making gains among PNC supporters is spite of poor governance of the coalition. In a free and fair election, the PPP may emerge victorious; those who crossed over from PPP to vote for AFC are returning home because of what they describe as the betrayal of the AFC. But a free and fair election is not guaranteed. So why is the PPP taking risks at hoping there will be a free and fair election and that it all win? The PNC will not allow a free and fair election; it never did since 1957 and will not allow a free and fair election in 2020. 'The PPP needs to make measures to attract figures against whom it will be nearly impossible for or minimise PNC rigging as took place between 1966 and 1992.

The PPP does not have the numbers to guarantee a win in an election even if it is free and fair. Indians have been migrating shrinking the PPP numbers. But if the PPP has the right independent credible personalities in its Civic component, it will win. The party needs to reform itself allowing for members to decide on issues and to make alliance with other groups and individuals of integrity. The party is not moving in this direction in spite of good advice from intellectuals. Had the party taken advice offered it in 2011, it would have retained its majority. Had it taken advice in 2015, it would have won the election. As I found out from various sources, this party has rejected every good, sound advice to expand its support, and so it has found itself in opposition where it is expected to remain for a long time unless it is prepared to accept advice from those who has its interests at heart.

Since May 1915, the PPP has not been able to attract new faces into the party or make alliance with any group although it has reached out to some credible individuals like Chris Ram, Lawrence Latchmansingh, Rhyaan Shah, Joe Singh, Ralph Ramkarran (who declined a nomination), etc. , all of whom were rejected by the APNU+AFC as Chair of Gecom. The PPP has to encourage these individuals and more to become part of its Civic component. It has to give the Civic autonomy to choose its own members and leadership and to manage its own affairs like an independent party or political organisation. The PPP cannot choose the leadership of the Civic or decide who will be its members. The Civic must have complete freedom and independence to decide on these issues. In this way, towering personalities like Ralph Ramkarran, Joe Singh, Lawrence Latchmansingh, Chris Ram, Rhyaan Shah, Ravi Dev, Gerry Gouveia, etc. can feel comfortable in becoming a member of the Civic without appearing as a member or supporter of the PPP. There is no doubt their presence in the Civic in an alliance will carry the PPP to victory. In fact, such an alliance will win a landslide victory especially if led by one of these figures (particularly Ramkarran or Joe Singh or Gouveia, all of whom enjoy huge support across the political divide and in whom people have posited a lot of confidence for the restoration of good governance and ethnic equality).

But will the PPP heed good advice or wise counsel? The PPP did not listen in the past. Will it listen now? The PPP must heed Ori's advice and rethink its strategy for 2020 -- embrace all including critics and detractors. The party needs to take bold steps and loosen the Civic component to its appellation and in alliance formation so that respected professionals and individuals of integrity will feel comfortable in joining the Civic. If the Civic is autonomous and it attracts towering personalities, the PPP will win a landslide victory in 20020. If not, the PPP will remain in opposition for decades to come.