Alright, of course, the lead caption with “Ramotar” and “Granger” is a journalistic attention-grabber. Virtually facetious.
Perhaps, as usual, however, I use it to today to teach the Guyanese electorate – both seasoned “electors” and the younger, newer voters who are all actually in the majority. Frankly speaking, to me both the political parties and the Elections Commission (Gecom) will hardly find it a priority or even necessary to discuss the hypothetical or even likely scenarios I’m about to present below. The opposition parties, especially, might not want to reveal these possible complexities to their supporters even though those possibilities would benefit them. After all, every party or group of parties now will tell you that each of them can win the elections outright! Alone!
But fresh from an overseas stay away from the local politicking; not any longer a voter, but exercising my right to stay interested in the “system” to the extent of educating fellow citizens, because I know that their parties and Gecom are “busy” otherwise, I write.
One president, divided parliament
Do you know, dear voter, just how we get a president of the Republic? Do you really know – or care – how seats are eventually allocated in the House of Assembly which considers and passes laws affecting our lives?
The system and procedures kick into place a day or two after all of your votes are counted. No space here for details but allow me to explain to young voters, that our National Constitution is quite specific about how we get a President. (Chapter 9, Articles 89 to, around 111 and Articles 177 to 182 tell you all about the presidency of this land.)
All the contesting parties at election time submit to Gecom their lists of candidates on Nomination Day. When you vote for your choice (your party), you also vote for the Head of the list to be President. That person (candidate) becomes Presi-dent when and if that list (or party) captures the most – or majority of votes of all those who cast ballots on Election Day. Repeat, we get a President when his or her party (elections) list receives the most votes and he or she is the head or presidential candidate.
I won’t today explore with you the current rigmarole in actually allocating seats. Gecom and its Chief Elec-tions Officer will hopefully, assist the parties and civil society to explain all about assembly seats from geographical constituencies and the seats straight from the party lists. I won’t even use the description “National Top-Up lists” here (ha!).
But here is my hypothetical scenario. Let’s assume Donald Ramotar’s PPP/C list gets enough votes to make him President. His PPP was convincing enough to beat the single party, or coalition opposition on polling day. There is still the possibility that the combined opposition – afterwards – can actually muster more seats in the Assembly, if Ramotar’s PPP did not win by a very wide and comfortable margin! This is still Guyana, but a few thousand won’t mind that happening.
It means that Guyana can have a President from one Party forming its new government, but a very divided Parliament, wherein the new government has to depend on opposition votes to pass all its laws. Shades of the USA?
Prime Minister? Compromise!
This means, if it happens because the election results were very close, that there will be constant bargaining, negotiating and compromise in the National Assembly for both sides to get laws passed and national business speedily concluded. You don’t always have to be actually in government to be “powerful”!
So now you, who will vote, know the (possible) stakes when they approach you. Your caring candidates seek either outright majority – or enough to be Prime Minister – like wielding power in parliament. Will it happen here ever? In the Assembly, suddenly Granger, Ramjattan – or Sharma can be like a prime minister – Leader of “government business”.
At this time, especially, politicians from all sides, critics and commentators will use the opinions and conclusions revealed from the American cables, to their own perceived benefits. Human nature, oneupsp.
My only humble caution is this, the obvious: if you use the leaked information to your advantage, you are, in effect, validating and justifying the diplomats’ analyses and conclusions about situations and personalities. So if later cables reveal negative things about you or your interests, you should not be too upset.
To me, the best way to judge the American diplomats’ findings and advice to their Washington bosses, is to study just what actually unfolded months or years after the advisory cables were dispatched to D.C.
When you cast your vote for your party on Election Day, that is far from the end of it. You should imagine the authority then of the Gecom chairman, the Gecom Chief Election Officer, the Chan-cellor of the Judiciary, even the Court of Appeal.
Do you think you have any say in what your party leaders will negotiate, after voting? (Elections are certainly not the only hallmark of democracy, dear voters)
I told Len how impressed I was seeing Dr Maurice Odle and Carl Greenidge back to supply economic ‘Big Guns’ to APNU.
Len says – Pity the 18 -30-year young voter knows or cares not about those Big Guns. This hustler generation knows only Jagdeo, Corbin, Roger Khan, DJ This, DJ That, Kashif and Shanghai, Bishoo – and Vybz Kartel! Oh my …
Jennifer Westford for Prime Minister?
Til next week!