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Lessons and political loss

first_imgThe 2018 Local Government Elections (LGE) are over. The final results will be thoroughly scrutinised, not just to assess gains or losses, but to look for possible trends using recent past elections as bases. The findings will be integral to the planning of contesting parties for the upcoming 2020 General and Regional Elections. This is the context of strengths and weaknesses and where emphasis may have to be placed among other considerations.In this early post phase, what may find common ground is that the November 12, 2018, LGE was peaceful, the process generally smooth, despite a few hiccups and low voter turnout. The atmosphere was completely different from what seems customary for General and Regional Elections here. Except for the closure of schools, it wasn’t easy to tell that an election was being held as it appeared to be business as usual. That should be seen as a positive sign given the historical nature of such events.One area of concern, as based on some reports received, was the seemingly lack of uniformity in executing some aspects of the official processes by Election Day staff of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM). In one case, some seemed adamant in not allowing officials of the Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) to place its seal on ballot boxes at some places of poll.Placing of a party seal is an important step in helping to safeguard the integrity of the boxes. Any attempt to thwart such will be seen as compromising that integrity. Those cases were eventually resolved after intervention from senior GECOM officials and the seals placed. The obvious question is; why a few staff would choose to disallow the seals when clearly it is counter GECOM’s position on the issue?It would be frustrating for those on the receiving end who had to seek urgent intervention. This raises expectation as how that will be dealt with by GECOM to ensure that in the future, policies are adhered to by its staff across the board. What penalties, if any, can be instituted on those who may be found to be in breach of agreed protocols?Such breaches are not uncommon here and have created much unease in the past. Common would be some staff disallowing candidates from observing the counting of ballots and disparity in the understanding of what constitutes a rejected one.For this to be resolved, among other things, it points to the need for a more extensive voter education programme, which faced some criticism during this election. Also to mandate that all agreed procedures, including placement of seals and who can observe the count, be made public long in advance and placed prominently at polling stations.In that process must also be education on the importance of LGEs. That aside, the efforts of the senior GECOM officials, who intervened on the night of November 12, must be recognised. Likewise, the staff who followed agreed procedures in other areas.Prominent during the 2018 LGE campaign, was the much talked about controversy at the Whim/Bloomfield Local Authority Area (LAA). Given what transpired, court case et al, it became an unofficial referendum on the Alliance For Change (AFC) on one hand and, more specifically, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo, who hails from Whim on the other.That was arguably the most anticipated result of the 2018 LGE. From what has been reported and to be confirmed by GECOM, the AFC failed to make any inroads in that area, and by extension, across the country. This is significant, for it would indicate that the party has lost miserably the support it gathered for the 2015 General Election.Firstly, that will be seen as an indictment of the AFC’s inability to make contributions through programmes and policies for the improvement of the lives of Guyanese, especially Berbicians and seems fast slipping into becoming irrelevant. Secondly, it further exposes the lack of influence the Prime Minister has, not just to the base in his home village, but believably in the country and Government.The voters have spoken and the message is strong and without ambiguity. The official results at Whim can epitomise the seemingly growing irrelevance of the AFC. All eyes will be on it to see how it deals with this embarrassing situation and more so, how the A Partnership for National Unity responds in the context of the coalition.Clearly this recent LGE showing by the AFC will have impact on its future. Its worry is therefore understood. It must be asking itself how within three and a half years it could have incurred so much political loss. That would no doubt lead to introspection and thorough analyses of what confronted it, especially since May 2015.Many, having kept abreast with our national politics, would claim to know the answers, presumably glaring, and would argue that no technical analysis is needed. For one, the AFC’s slogan for the 2018 LGE may have been an indirect referendum on the party itself for its poor showing can now categorise it as not being ‘fit and proppa’.last_img read more