Guyana’s newspapers had reported over a week ago that the AFC would go Solo … (see SN Nov 16) if it didn’t get its way – that is, getting the PM position and a fair amount of parliamentary seats. This commentary was sent to Stabroek News of Guyana on Nov 16 but not published.
The AFC and APNU need one another to improve their electoral prospect over the opposition PPP in March 2’s elections. And the two coalition partners seem tied at the waist. AFC talked tough but takes no action and behaves like it can’t do without its senior partner.
There was no evidence that AFC would go into the election alone although it could do quite well, and it may be in its interests to contest separately from APNU. It could regain lost support and hold the balance the power as it did between 2011 and 2015 if it had decided to contest alone. But it has decided to contest in coalition with APNU. Neither of the two larger traditional parties seems likely to win a majority seats with so many voters turned off from politics and saying they will not vote because of candidate selection.
A problem AFC or another small party faces is when contesting in a press-election alliance, a minor party’s hands are tied because of the peculiar nature of the fraudulent Burnham constitution that ‘prohibits’ post election alliances. A party cannot leave the pre-election coalition and retain its seats; the MPs can be replaced by the head of the list who may be sympathetic with another (the major) party. Thus, a minor party has no way to make accountable or bring pressure on a larger more dominant partner that may control the list. In the present circumstance, the head of the coalition list is a ‘neutral’ person and there is no certainty that a neutral figure will head the list for March elections. But the AFC appeared powerless in government to make demands and back them with threats of withdrawal of support. Had it done so, there may have been a different kind of politics in which people would have cheered the AFC; its support would have ballooned, and it may very well have become the largest party. That is history now. The party must look to the future of what it can do for the nation, those who supported it, and itself.
The AFC has to try and recover lost support from those who have become disappointed in its political behavior. It never is too late to do the right thing and make a turn for the better in terms of accountability to supporters. The party must demonstrate independence from APNU. The party must do what it must to regain self-respect and the support of those who backed it in 2011 and 2015.
Will AFC do the honorable thing and stick to its tough demands. Time will tell. (AFC has in fact capitulated and accepted 30% of seats and five Ministries with Granger deciding the MPs and seats). People say they won’t be surprised if the goal post set by AFC shifts again come Monday (Nov 17) when the party says it will decide on how it will contest the March 2 elections. (An agreement was reached). Since joining the coalition in 2015, AFC has not shown courage to break from APNU. People I spoke with are not hopeful that AFC will go alone. But supporters of APNU want AFC to remain a junior partner in the coalition. APNU needs AFC to bolster its electoral chances.