In your edition of December 22, 2010, Cde Donald Ramotar, commenting on the portion of my advertisement published in SN on December 21, in which I expressed the expectation for a secret ballot if there is a contested election for the presidential candidate of the PPP, said that he did not know whether there would be a secret ballot for the election because there was none before and that the meeting would have to decide.
The glaring problem with this is that no meeting can decide for anyone whether or not that person’s right to a secret ballot should be abridged. It is the natural, God-given, right of all human beings to exercise their democratic choice in conditions of secrecy and confidentiality. In all cases where open voting takes place, a single request for a secret ballot must be honoured. This is enshrined in the rules of many organisations. Where not enshrined, this principle is honoured, as it must be.
The PPP has always adhered to the highest principles of internal democracy. It spent much of the past decades fighting to extend those principles to all the people of Guyana. Cde Ramotar was a stalwart in that struggle.
He would therefore recall that when the Central Committee of the PPP had to pronounce on its last three presidential candidates – Cdes Cheddi Jagan, Janet Jagan and Bharrat Jagdeo – they were the only nominees in each case and therefore, as is normal in such circumstances, they were each approved by acclamation. No voting is necessary when there is only one nominee for a position.
On the other hand, in all cases where elections in the PPP are contested, the voting is conducted by secret ballot. For example, since 1950, elections at Congress in the earlier period for the General Council, officers and the executive, and in later years for the Central Committee, have always been conducted by secret ballot. There was never a vote taken as to whether these elections should be conducted by open voting.
In the later period, elections in the Central Committee for the Executive Committee are and have always been conducted by secret ballot. There has never been a vote as to whether these elections should be conducted by open voting. Elections at Regional and District Conferences for Regional and District Committees and officers of those committees have always been conducted by secret ballot. In fact the General Secretary nominates a person from outside the region or district to conduct the elections. Again, there has never been a vote as to whether these elections should be conducted by open voting.
In fact, there has never, ever, been a vote at any level of the party to decide whether elections should be held by secret ballot or not. This is simply because everyone knows that such a vote would be a gross violation of the democratic right of members to a secret ballot.
Therefore, in the highest traditions of democracy, the PPP has always conducted contested elections by secret ballot. In accordance with these traditions, and as yet another high example to the people of Guyana as to how the PPP conducts its business, I expect that if there is more than one nominee contesting the position of presidential candidate, those elections will be held by secret ballot.