The PPP has seen a steady decline in its support
From 1992 to 2006, the PPP dominated Guyana politics. However, change was reshaping the PPP and the political landscape from 2006. 2011 delivered the first sign of the dimming future the PPP faces.
While it remains the strongest political party in terms of numerical support, the PPP has seen a steady decline of its support from a high of 220,000 in 2001 to 166,000 a mere decade and two elections later. Of all the major parties, the PPP is the only party that has steadily declined from its 2001 high. The PNC has see-sawed back from its 2006 demise while the AFC has made steady but marginal gains.
The PPP on the other hand has steadily lost some 54,000 votes since 2001. These losses can be explained by demographic changes affecting the PPP’s main voting support group, Indians, which as a population is declining at the fastest rate amongst all ethnic groups due to migration and lower birth rates.
Then there is the growing Indian disenchantment with the corruption, internal dictatorship, hijacking of the party apparatus by a few, wrongdoing and other ills that are commonly associated with the PPP power cabal. Before the arrival of the AFC, the PPP obtained the largest percentage of crossover ethnic votes from Amerindians and Mixed Races.
The AFC has split this vote while a substantial segment of these two ethnic groups have stopped voting at all. Combine these chilling facts with the dramatic decline in ethnic voting determined by support for ethnic parties (only 61% to 63% voted for PPP and PNC/APNU since 2006 whereas both got 90% of total votes in 2001) and the future of the PPP is only going to get bleaker. The internal wranglings of the PPP have deflated many of its traditional supporters.
With weak handpicked leadership in the presidency, internal dictatorship dominating the party machinery, no real change in personnel (Rohee is still around), the continuation of square pegs in round holes like Bishop Juan Edghill as Junior Finance Minister, the strongly suggestive influence of the reviled Bharrat Jagdeo, corruption continuing unabated, no dynamic new leadership on the horizon, Indian awakening and independence and Indian psychological liberation from the PPP (see Berbice in last election), decreasing ethnic voting, alienation of its own membership, campaigning laziness (‘wine-down sessions as opposed to intensive campaigning), hijacking of the party by a handful of suspect types and the continued full exhibition of incompetence, mismanagement and maladministration, the PPP is in a serious bind for the future.
Unless the PPP undergoes a radical democratization and transparency transformation like the PNC with new leadership on board, it will likely suffer further losses in the future. Even if some Indians who departed for the manna from Moses (Nagamootoo) are to return, demographic realities impacting Indians and an even further massive disappearance of the crossover votes from Amerindians and Mixed Races will harm the PPP in 2016. Whereas in the past the PPP needed these crossover voters to secure a majority, the party needs them now to secure a plurality.
The PPP is losing the little multiethnic appeal it held to Amerindians and Mixed Races while it is bleeding Indian supporters, particularly the younger Indian generation which is no longer an assured vote for the PPP. That is a volatile and depressing combination. As the election result demonstrated, the attempt to resurrect fear amongst Indians failed or only partially succeeded.
It is no longer a proven political ballistic. Indians want more than fear and the PPP has not offered it. Indians want credible political leadership. The PPP cannot offer it.
Unless the PPP allows the brilliant sunshine of democracy to erupt within its party, it will face more apathy and revulsion from its traditional supporters. Its arrogant refusal to change that which failed before and jettisoned its supporters will generate more political casualties.
What is truly tragic is that the PPP led by that celebrated incompetent, Robert Persaud, rather brazenly and barefacedly tried to blame PPP supporters and Indians in particular for the party’s inability to secure a majority without casting the entire quarry of stones at the cabal running the PPP that has deformed the party and wrecked its integrity and symbiosis with the people.
The Guyanese people have advanced beyond the PPP’s model of building often shoddy infrastructure and bottling it as the entirety of progress and development. People want a better quality of life that values life and human dignity.
While it is difficult to see the PNC/APNU overcoming that 26,000 gulf in votes between it and the PPP in the next election, it could in the election thereafter. What if by some miracle the PNC/APNU wins power in 2016. Has the PPP prepared its followers for that reality? The future of the PPP lies not in ethno-politics but in trying to erase ethno-politics to appeal to the changing demographics of its own support and to try to win back the departing droves.
A minority government run by a race-based party cannot offer security to its supporters and to the nation without serious change in the way its does business. The fact of the matter is that the PPP has not changed at all or has not metamorphosed to enable its own supporters to face a better future.
The handful of failed leaders running the PPP inner circle are so consumed with getting power and filling pockets that they have missed the potential consequences of their actions upon their supporters and the nation in general.
As it stands, the Parliament and most importantly, the armed forces (army and police) are dominated by non-PPP parties and supporters. Has the PPP considered where the allegiance of the army lies when a delicate matter of national importance puts the executive and the majority in Parliament at loggerheads? What if this minority government situation existed in the early 2000s during the crime wave? Could there ever arise an instance where the armed forces back the decision of Parliament over the executive?
The future of the PPP lies in using the next five years to implement serious changes to erase ethnic imbalances so that it can regain its crossover votes, minimize ethnic insecurity and bring fairness and equity back into the fold. The PPP must start with serious ethnic balancing of the armed forces. Continue with making Gecom independent and hardened to political manipulation. Implement various rights-based and equity oriented organizations and commissions.
Even if some in the current PPP inner circle may consider keeping power by any means, the reality is that the armed forces which had no problems with the PNC’s propagation of dictatorship will not take kindly to any contemplation of dictatorship by the PPP. This raises the question of whether the PPP will consider rigging the vote in 2016 if its support continues to fall and the PNC is in danger of pipping it?
Will an ethnically imbalanced security forces ever take electoral skulduggery from the PPP lying down? Believe it or not, the future of the PPP lies not, as it presently appears, in the pursuit of internal dictatorship or in ethnic voting but in democracy and the reduction of ethnic voting.
Outside of the AFC, it is the party with the best ability to transform into a strong multiethnic force and to capture votes outside of the African and Indian majority populations. The future is darkening for the PPP. As long as it continues down this autocratic and arrogant road, encroaching darkness may end up being a permanent blackout.