PPP likely to form coalition government – Former Member

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Former Speaker of the National Assembly and PPP Executive: Ralph Ramkarran.
Former Speaker of the National Assembly and PPP Executive: Ralph Ramkarran.

[www.inewsguyana.com] – If the PPP/C is returned with only a plurality of the votes at the upcoming elections as in 2011, it could adopt the sensible course of inviting the opposition to join it in a coalition government. The PPP would be mindful of recent, salutary, experience in Sweden. The centre-left, minority, government of two months was forced to resign in early December because it did not get the support of the far right, Sweden Democrats, who wanted immigration to be further restricted. Also, a further gridlock is unlikely to be sustainable for more than a year this time around.

The PPP would, of course, like any other party obtaining a plurality, like to be in the majority in a coalition and may invite only one of the opposition parties to join a coalition. The obvious consideration in opposition strategy, if an invitation is forthcoming, is to ensure that it will have the same majority as it would have had in opposition. To avoid being in a minority, the opposition party may well insist that the other opposition party, its colleague over the past three years, be also invited to join which would give the opposition a majority in the coalition. A breakdown in the negotiations at this early stage may well lead to the Swedish Option.

Having faced gridlock and frustration over the past three years, the political parties might all be looking to a new approach, difficult as this may be for the PPP. But the reality of an even more truncated lifespan for another minority government might be the incentive to propel the PPP in a different direction this time around. The PPP is then likely to have an opposition that may insist on both of them being part of the coalition arrangement.

Even with agreed policies, a party in a minority status in a coalition could succumb to the dynamics or blandishments of office, and agree or be forced to agree to the dilution or even derailment of its policies on constitutional reform, corruption, economic and social policy and good governance. The position of the Liberals in the UK ought to provide a reference point. The Liberals, in a minority, have been unable to promote their agenda, even some of those that were agreed upon, such as electoral reform, and have been unable to resist the more egregious Conservative policies against the poor. As a result the Liberals’ support is likely to substantially decline at the elections in May. The opposition will obviously want to avoid a similar fate in Guyana by insisting on full inclusion and a rigid adherence to defined policies.

Minority governments by nature have a short lifespan. Coalition governments are notoriously unstable. The main reasons are disputes over policy or where a member sees an advantage in early elections. For this reason the opposition parties ought to have, before the elections, the basic policies that they would want all parties joining a coalition government to be committed to. This would require creative negotiation and compromises. Statesmanship, such as has never been seen before in Guyana, will have to be deployed.

The most important would be economic policies. Issues that have attracted discussion include the failure to diversify the economy from reliance on only primary products without added value. There is little emphasis on the encouragement of manufacturing and services. Insufficient resources are directed to the building of the tourist industry which has much potential. In relation to infrastructure focus has shifted to the Amaila Hydropower Project and away from the road to Lethem and a deep water harbor. Both would be important.

Anti-corruption measures form a major plank of opposition demands. But apart from the establishment of the Public Procurement Commission, no policies have been elaborated as to how the widespread corruption, including petty corruption, is going to be reduced. Corruption includes massive tax evasion by large sectors of the population and large swaths of economic activity. Expanding the tax base is vital but little effort is made in this direction. The opposition also needs to consider how it will increase salaries, spend more on reducing crime, on reducing poverty and in particular extreme poverty while at the same time reducing VAT and other taxes. Social policy in relation crime including domestic violence, poverty, corruption, education, housing for the poor must be areas of agreement.

The unfinished work of constitutional reform would be a major condition for agreement to a coalition. There has been much debate recently on the issue and many proposals have been made. The PPP, through its General Secretary, Clement Rohee, has rejected calls for constitutional reform, no doubt expecting that the PPP will be returned with an absolute majority. If invited into a coalition, the opposition will certainly feel it necessary to secure a commitment from the PPP/C for the broad outlines of constitutional reform during its term of office before committing to joining the government.

Presumably the opposition will demand the position of Prime Minister who may insist that he (or she), rather than the HPS, actually functions as deputy to the President as well Leader of Government Business in the National Assembly.

5 COMMENTS

  1. Ajnr, I am not sure if I read sarcasm in your few lines, It is obvious you certainly are not close to the body politic that is playing out. Ralph may have well been a Presidential candidate of the PPP/C that was able to forge more consensus and seen a truly flourishing country. Having not been, he can now play a vital role as Mediator …. Stop and think …. There is nothing opportunistic, or of any such description that ailing members of the power elite and supporters may be apt at describing him. He would do well at saving Guyana unlike those who are kissing Granger’s behind and carrying news secretly out of Guyana, and you may be extremely surprised who they comprise. You may be won’t to believing they are negotiating “no recrimination”
    The Original founding stalwarts of the PPP would not be surprised. If you have the resources locate the speech of Dr Jagan at the 13 Congress of the PPP in 1966!!!!! Search for the truth and reality.!!!! Also I dare say the who is who in the PPP are very mindful and are acutely aware, never mind President Ramoutar’s opinion of both Ralph and Yesu this weekend expressed in the media reports, including the Guyana Times. He knows better… It is power play…. Stop … Count 1…10, then respond ….after familarising yourself in our history…. When you locate the aforementioned document look to see Dr Jagan’s reference to corruption as expressed by the then Lord Mayor, Cleveland Hamilton since 1966 !!!! Ralph Ramkaran may do very well to remind himself of both the socio political and socio economic consequences therefrom….. Granger, as a Student of history may do the nation justice to also research and acquaint himself and be a true patriot. He has so far displayed a tendency of not being a stooge and puppet of the puppets, but then again this weekend he seemed desperate that the AFC was pussyfooting and was doing the tango on FUCOP!!!

  2. Ralph Ramkarran has written a load of manure. Quote “A breakdown in the negotiations at this early stage may well lead to the Swedish Option”. Sweden is a matured democracy with a society much different from ours. Just think about it. It is a country where the political parties have differences but they speak to one another for the good of their country. President Ramotar reached out to the opposition parties many times but they simply refused to engage in any talks. Do you honestly think the PPP will ask these parties for a coalition??? What nonsense!! The combined opposition (AFC and PNC aka APNU) is pathetically weak and has nothing to offer except to take Guyana backwards. Ralph Ramkarran and those losers in the AFC have one goal in mind which is to settle old scores. They care very little about people and country and feel the current leaders of the PPP are incapable. Referring to the “Swedish option” or the “Liberals in the UK” is pure balderdash. Get real.

    The PPP do not need the opposition parties in any kind of coalition because they will win with a majority. Either Mr Ramkarran does not know the country he has lived in all his life or he simply likes to day dream.

  3. what is really going on in ralph ramkarran’s head? does this gentleman have too much idle time in his hand? I tend to believe so. if ramkarran is such a brilliant thinker ‘and has all the solutions to Guyana’s problems as he would want us to believe , why doesn’t he form a political party and contest the next elections? this fellow seems to me to be so strange and queer.

  4. Ralph is another former PPP member who is incompetent and wants position. I remember the PPP offering him an opportunity to be an MP and he rejected it because he wanted to be president.

  5. what garbage u talking ralph ?
    is this what papa cheddi would like to see ?
    be frank and say u might as well join the opposition to break up the party u worked all ur life with .

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