An electoral tsunami is in the making in Guyana for tomorrow (Monday)’s local government elections as per an ongoing tracking opinion poll conducted by well known international pollster Dr Vishnu Bisram. The tracking poll trends find a large voter swing in favor of the PPP and away from the opposition PNC (APNU) which has been steadily losing ground in its base since a change in political leadership in December 2021. The poll findings reveal traditional supporters of the PNC have expressed disappointment in their leader Aubrey Norton while those of PPP continue to express confidence in the leadership of Bharrat Jagdeo and President Ali. PPP experiences cross racial appeal while PNC receives primarily African and Mixed votes and has not been able to win over or retain Indians that supported it in elections in 2015, 2016, 2018, and 2020.
The poll’s findings show PPP/C has taken a huge lead in voter support over the PNC (APNU) and other minor political parties and independent candidates. The PPP/C leads the combined opposition by over 45% in popular support and is projected to win some 80% of the seats. Only the PPP/C and PNC (APNU) will win control of local entities. But the PNC faces defeat in several seats as well as neighborhood local entities it won in the last local election in 2018. The opposition forces are struggling to gain traction and facing decimation. A minor party could win one seat in Georgetown. Other small parties and independent candidates are struggling everywhere for popular support. Several seats in Georgetown, New Amsterdam, Mahdia and neighborhood councils that PNC traditionally wins face close contests. The PPP’s candidate, Shawn Smith , for example, in New Amsterdam has been making in roads into a PNC stronghold. Outcome in many seats depends on turnout which is projected to be very low.
The elections are for control of 80 local authority areas (LAAs) divided into 70 Neighborhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) and ten municipalities or towns. Each LAA varies in seat composition based on population size. Each has an equal number of first past the post constituencies and Proportional Representation (PR) seats. There are a total of 610 constituencies in the 80 LAAs and an equal number of PR or top up seats for a total of 1220.
The PPP faces no opposition in 12 NDCs and one municipality for a total of 98 constituencies and 98 PR seats. In addition, the PPP faces no contest in 193 other constituencies in the remaining 58 NDCs and 9 municipalities.
Elections in Guyana are known to be racially polarized turning into racial contests. This is the first election since 1953 in which a party, the PPP, is winning significant cross over support. Africans and Mixed have crossed over into the PPP which also attracts significant Amerindian support. Almost all Indians vote PPP. The PNC has not attracted Indian support with Indians complaining they are not attracted to its leadership but will support the party under ‘a non-racial’ leader like Roysdale Forde. PNC relies on support almost exclusively from Africans and Mixed. Voters across the racial groups complain they are not attracted to the PNC because of its leadership. Supporters say Mr. Norton lacks charisma and charm, does not provide visionary leadership, lacks vision, and is high handed and not a team player. They note that since a change in leadership 18 months ago, the party has been plagued or marred by repeated scandals and financial allegations and marred by resignations. Traditional supporters also say the new leader has failed to rejuvenate the party. Much of the party’s base say they will blank the election. And although turnout will be low across the nation, the PPP’s base is being mobilized and its turnout will be much higher than the PNC’s – another sign of a lack of confidence in the leader.. The combined lack of cross over support for and uninspiring leadership in PNC, the PPP is cruising to victory.
As a result of the multi-racial swing towards the PPP and the advantages of incumbency, the party is heading into a mammoth electoral victory never before experienced in the country winning some 80% of the seats and LAAs.