EYEWITNESS: Fixing…

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…or spinning wheels on Third Force

There seems to be an effort to jump-start another “Third Force” in Guyana today; and former Speaker Ralph Ramkarran attempted to rationalise it in his column from yesterday. This Third Force idea’s been floated time and again as a way to break the debilitating stand-off between the PPP and PNC – parties which obtain their support from ethnic Indian and African voters, who are closely matched in size.

The theory is simple but, unfortunately, also simplistic. It assumes there’s a bloc of voters who stand above the ethnic fray, and will “do the right thing” for Guyana if a party can weld them into this “Third Force”. However, since Ramkarran conceded ethnic voting won’t disappear, your Eyewitness wonders why he even considered the possibility that a Third Force can win it all. Even the name “Third Force” assumes such a grouping can’t win – by accepting the continued existence of the other two “forces” that would be larger than it.

The most credible “Third Force” was the WPA at the 1992 elections, and we know how ignominious their defeat was. They hit all the “right” notes – good pedigree (Rodney), credible leaders from all the ethnic groups, good manifesto, working for Guyana etc,etc. They – and a host of the chattering class — were convinced they’d win. Yet they received barely 2% of the votes compared to the PNC’s 42% – after the PNC had immiserated (their presidential candidate Thomas’s word) all Guyana – ethnically defined or otherwise.

Next up was the AFC, launched in 2006. The three politicians from the PNC, PPP and WPA who became its leaders – Trotman, Ramjattan and Holder – benefited from the ambiguity of who floated them. Like Ramkarran, they insisted they’d deny the two big parties a majority and hold the “balance of power” – voting with one or the other, depending on what benefited Guyana the most.

But the experience of the AFC is what will guarantee the failure of any new “Third Force”. What could the new cast of characters say or do to GUARANTEE they won’t go the way of the AFC?? Meaning, to become a footstool of one of the two big parties just for “self and power”? The answer is nothing!! Ramkarran’s counting on the “middle class” from the “Mixed” demographic to provide the bulk of the support base of the new Third Force. RISE?
But it’s not immediately clear why he’s conflating the two totally divergent group categories of ‘class” and “ethnicity”.

He seems to forget that ethnicity provides the instrumental economic imperative of class plus the affective emotional pull of identity.
Just look where the putatively middle-class, “Mixed”, Raphael Trotman is today!!

…the elections result for 2020

The Chairman of Region 1 recently complained about the APNU MP of the Region being integrally involved in the distribution of birth certificates. Now, at first blush, it might seem the Chairman’s looking a gift horse in the mouth, since birth certificates in the “interior” regions aren’t that much of a routine as it is for those closer to Georgetown.

But we’ve got to be alert to several things going on here. While the MP should be concerned about his constituency getting their birth certificates, he ought not to be directly involved in the job of the bureaucracy! They’re supposed to be apolitical. At a minimum, the act – highlighted also by the Director of Public Information – shows the PNC’s willingness to blur the lines between the executive and the bureaucracy. PNC paramountcy!!

But, more insidiously, since birth certificates are involved and these are the basis of registration of voters, one does not have to be a brain surgeon to figure out what else might be in store.
Padded lists?

…oil contracts

Government partisans are excusing Trotman’s oil giveaways because the terms of the just released CGX contract are similar. The fly in the ointment with that excuse is to overlook the elephant in the room.

Trotman renegotiated his contract AFTER a billion-barrel oil strike!!

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