OPINION: PNCR should stop making excuses for their defeat

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The following is an opinion piece by Dr Tara Singh

One gets the impression that PNCR operatives are still surprised (or pretend to be) that they have lost the 2020 elections, and are finding it difficult to come to terms with that reality.

To be dethroned from an apparent impregnable position that is fortified by imperial-like power seems to ravish the incumbents’ psyche to such an extent that they (PNCR) were compelled to stage a valiant scheme to rig the Region 4 tabulation figures to steal victory from the PPP/C. They failed in that effort, but still persisted with another sinister move (Lowenfield insurgency) to snatch victory from the PPP/C.

That other mission was carried out by Gecom CEO Keith Lowenfield, who arrogated to himself the role of, Judge, jury and executioner by trying single-handedly to discredit the elections (of which he was in charge) as well as to discredit the findings of the high level Caricom team.

The conspirators’ motive was to annul the 2020 elections and so deprive the PPP/C of its victory. But that plot was foiled by the GECOM Chair, who rightly claims that GECOM has no authority to annul the elections, and that irregularities must be resolved by the High Court through a petition.

It is widely expected that the PPP/C would be formally declared the winner of the 2020 elections, and that Dr Irfaan Ali would shortly be sworn in as President.

At a basic level, an analysis of the PNCR’s loss of the 2020 elections shows that their main partner, AFC, have failed to deliver to the coalition even 20% of the votes they got in 2015 elections. The collapse of the AFC base, which began with the LGE 2018 and which continued to slide downwards along the precipice onto the 2020 elections, is mainly responsible for the PNCR’s loss. It is noted that the AFC were not as strong in 2011 as they were in 2015, but if one were to utilise the 2011 elections’ data, the AFC got over 35,000 votes.

In 2015, they received an estimated 40,000 votes. In 2020, they received around 5,000 votes. Why then did the AFC base and support shrink so rapidly?

There are many reasons, some of which are tabulated here. The AFC agreed with PNCR Leader and President, David Granger on a number of critical issues; such as: (1) not to institute constitutional reform as their stated top priority; (2) unilaterally appoint James Patterson as GECOM Chair; (3) defying the No Confidence Motion (NCM); (4) closing 4 sugar estates and laying off 7,000 workers, and providing them with no job alternatives; (5) accusing sugar workers of raiding the public treasury; (6) and denying the promised 20% pay raise to sugar workers and the promised $9,000 per bag of paddy to rice farmers.

Despite the PNCR’s fighting a good 2020 elections’ campaign and enjoying the advantage of incumbency, the AFC’s albatross knocked the wind out of the sails of the PNCR ship. Internal polls from other political parties had shown that the PNCR would have gotten less than 40% of the total votes cast. Their performance defied that projection and they were able to get 47% of the total votes cast. If the AFC had performed at the 2020 polls at 1/2 the level of 2011 or 2015, the 2020 elections’ results might have been different.

PNCR should stop making excuses for their loss, such as inventing anomalies and recklessly blaming PPP/C for electoral irregularities. They should instead proceed to evaluate their elections’ performance. This would allow them to restructure, re-engineer, and recharge their party to make it more responsive to the needs of the people. The 2020 polls have shown that issues are very important, and that political competition could bring those onto centre stage.

The process of national healing and national reconciliation must be invigorated, and a new vision be established to lead the country into prosperity.