…says governing party has to rebuild coalition from within
Friday’s historic passage of the no-confidence motion against the Government has come as no surprise to political analyst Dr David Hinds, who believes that this is a wakeup call for the governing party to rebuild its crumbling coalition and reconnect with its constituencies.
In an interview with <<<Inews>>> following the outcome of the vote, Hinds noted that in three years the coalition Government had morphed into something akin to a one-party government – specifically the People’s National Congress (PNC) component.
“I’m not surprised that this happened. I’m disappointed as someone who supports the Government. But in some respects I saw it coming,” Hinds said. “And the reason for that is I have been saying that relations within the parties in the coalition were not good, despite the fact that the leaders of the Government were saying the coalition was strong.
“I think that was the major reason this happened, as (parliamentarian Charrandass Persaud) said, though he belonged to one of the parties in the coalition, he did not have a voice. And it has been one of the problems. He’s not singular with that. All the parties in the coalition, their members will tell you they did not have a voice. The parties were systematically shut out.”
Hinds acknowledged that party members who were part of Cabinet did have a say in certain matters. But he noted that in Persaud’s case, he was not afforded this privilege since he was a non-Cabinet member and as such, he effectively did not have a voice.
“If you have a coalition, you have to treat all members with respect. You need to involve all the parties in crucial decision-making. You cannot confine decision-making to one organ, the Cabinet. You have to have consultations outside of Cabinet. Failure to do so, the coalition will break down. And this is what happened.
According to Hinds, who is a Working People’s Alliance (WPA) executive member, the PNC will have to reach out and rebuild the coalition from within. He also noted the importance of walking the walk, as they would have to convince voters that they have learnt and were genuinely committed to coalition politics.
“I can tell you that the executive of the APNU has not met for a year,” Hinds said. “This has been one of the problems. So, they will have to rebuild the coalition from within, very quickly. They will have to assure coalition members that should they win again, there would be no repeat of marginalisation and alienation.
“They need to rally the confidence of their supporters and the wider country. People voted for the coalition. They did not vote for PNC or AFC. And within three years, the Government became a sort of PNC Government. And I think that turned off a lot of independent supporters.”
When it comes to the General and Regional Elections that now have to be called within 90 days, Dr Hinds believes that this will be anyone’s game. He noted that none of the parties were guaranteed a victory and they would have to work hard to get the necessary votes.
“The major problem for the coalition will be to get its base out to the polls. I think that will be the challenge. The Local Government Elections showed they were unable to energise their supporters to go to the polls.”
“The PPP (People’s Progressive Party), their big challenge will be to get the crossover votes that they need in order to push them over the line… I think the PPP itself will have to make its case to the wider population why it should be returned to power,” Hinds added.
On Friday evening, the no-confidence motion brought by the parliamentary Opposition – the PPP/Civic – against the Government succeeded when Persaud broke ranks and made a conscience vote in favour of the motion.
A total of 10 Members of Parliament (MPs) had previously debated the motion, but when a vote of division was called, Persaud’s vote changed the numbers to 33 versus his colleagues’ 32 votes against the motion.
While Persaud’s former coalition colleagues have complained about being betrayed by the vote, the parliamentary Opposition has thrown its support behind the MP’s right to vote in whichever direction his conscience leads him. Persaud has since left the country.
With the Government’s defeat, the next steps are spelt out in the Constitution of Guyana. Article 106 (6) of the Constitution states: “The Cabinet including the President shall resign if the Government is defeated by the vote of a majority of all the elected members of the National Assembly on a vote of confidence.”
Meanwhile, clause 7 goes on to state that, “Notwithstanding its defeat, the Government shall remain in office and shall hold an election within three months, or such longer period as the National Assembly shall by resolution supported by not less than two-thirds of the votes of all the elected members of the National Assembly determine, and shall resign after the President takes the oath of office following the election.”
President David Granger has already committed to following the provisions outlined in the Constitution, facilitating early elections and engaging in dialogue with the Leader of the Opposition, Bharrat Jagdeo.