OPINION: Why the PPP is the only national party in Guyana – Part II

Last Updated on Friday, 10 May 2024, 14:40 by Writer

By Dr Randy Persaud, Professor Emeritus, American University, Washington DC

In Part I of “Why the PPP is the only national party in Guyana,” I presented four elements that qualify the PPP as a national party. These were (1) it must cover the entire territory of a country and have a nation-wide political infrastructure to have ongoing dialogue with communities in all regions; (2) It must have broad representation in its leadership; (3) it must be open and welcoming to membership across class, gender, ethnic, religious, geographical, and ideological lines and four, and (4) it must be anti-racist and embrace persons of all national origin.

I also showed that the PPP is the only party in Guyana that fulfills all four of the requirements. Below I introduce another four qualities that qualify the PPP as a national Party.

  • It must commit to social change, political flexibility, and human development.
  • It must have sound macro-economic policies and policies of environmental sustainability
  • It must be able to govern in ways that meet international standards of macro-economic and environmental sustainability.
  • It must have a record of winning free and fair elections and keep promises made during election campaign.

Social Change, Political Flexibility, and Human Development
The thinking of the early PPP was consistent with the ways in which scores of leaders in the developing world approached politics and economics. While the core values and objectives of the PPP have remained consistent since its founding, innovative approaches have been developed and put into practice to realize the objectives of uplifting the lives of our people. A party that is truly national must embrace this kind of political flexibility. At the international level, there has been some significant realignment, much of it due to the enormity of our oil and gas sector. Foreign Direct Investment is no longer treated through ideological lens. On the contrary political flexibility has underwritten policy flexibility, leading to a balanced regime of FDI.

Macro-Economic and Environmental Sustainability
A party that is truly national must, in the 21st century, embrace economic and environmental sustainability. The APNU-AFC administration of 2015-2020 was a poster child of what can happen when economic incompetence reigns. During their five years at the helm, the APNU-AFC committed sustained economic violence by repeatedly giving priority to consumption over investments that would yield long-term results for the economy and the people. This was most shocking because the coalition was given a solid macro-structural plan in the form of the Low Carbon Development Strategy which the PPP had developed and began to implement in 2009-2010. Parties that are truly national cannot afford to spend most of the budget simply to please their constituencies, while neglecting the rest of the country, and its long-term needs. Since August 2020, the PPPC has been pursuing a balanced macro-economic approach within the architecture of the LCDs.

Winning Free and Fair Elections
The PPP has a long history of winning free and fair elections. It also has an enviable record of keeping its promises made during election campaigns. The same cannot be said for other political parties in Guyana. The PPP won national elections in 1953, 1957, 1961, 1992, 1997, 2001, 2006, 2011 (the presidency), and 2020. By contrast, the People’s National Congress has never won an election deemed free and fair. It teamed up with the UF in 1964 to take office, but by 1968 got rid of its anti-PPP helper. Peter D΄Aguiar, who was LFS Burnham’s co-conspirator in 1964, was outspoken against the PNC’s election fraud in 1968. D’Aguiar deemed Burnham’s The Representation of the People’s Bill to be “A Bill to rig the election for the ruling party.” Every election between 1968 and 1991 was proven to be rigged by the PNC.

The AFC surfaced in 2006. It made a solemn promise never to support the PNC, and certainly never to join with the PNC against the PPP. It broke that promise by going into a coalition with the PNC and their fanciful contraption called APNU. The Guyanese nation was subject to a shocking display of betrayal when the AFC brazenly and shamelessly joined with the PNC-led APNU in a broad-daylight attempt at rigging the 2020 National and Regional Elections. No one less than the former Prime Minister of Barbados, Mr. Owen Arthur was compelled to say that he had never seen such a transparent attempt to rig an election.

When you are not a national party, such as the PNC-led APNU or the AFC, there is tremendous pressure to do things for sectional interests be they geographical, ethnic, or economic. That has in the past included breaking the law, including the laws governing elections.

No False Promises to the Electorate
In five short years, the APNU-AFC proved beyond any doubt that its promises must never be taken seriously. Worse yet, the people must know that the APNU-AFC never means what it says. During the 2015 campaign they had promised $9000 per bag for paddy. It never happened. They promised support for students but instead took away the Because We Care cash grants. Tens of thousands of students suffered as a result. They promised they will make sugar stronger but instead they fired 7,000 thousand workers, which sent 28,000-30,000 citizens into dire economic straits. They promised financial relief for the business sector, but instead of cutting taxes, they placed 200 new taxes and fees on the backs of the Guyanese people. They promised to clean up the government but instead of catching wrong doers, they spent untold millions at SOCU that never yielded a single conviction.

By contrast, the PPP is known for keeping its promises. More to come on this in Part III.

Dr. Randy Persaud is Advisor, Office of the President.