Will President Ramotar ring the bell in order to get a majority in parliament to pass his bills? It will not be an easy decision for him to call an election and choose the leaders of the ticket for the PPP. For the PNC (APNU), it will be the usual David Granger-Rupert Roopnaraine combo because it worked for that coalition. For the AFC, there was talk of a Nigel Hughes-Moses Nagamootoo combination, but recent scandals involving AFC officials may derail that combo and there could be a repeat of a Khemraj Ramjattan-Raphael Trotman arrangement. The PPP and AFC will wrangle and wrestle with the issue of who to lead them into the election. Mark my words! There will be another national election before a local election.
The present political volatility (inability of the government to pass laws or its budget and continuous bickering among the three parties) could indeed produce general elections by mid-next year. In fact, I would be most surprised if there aren’t early elections. The nation’s business can’t go on like this any more. People blame all three parties for acting irresponsibly and not pursuing the interests of the people. They are pursuing self-interest and the nation wants a party to have a clear majority to make strong, compelling decisions.
None of the parties really want elections because they are all unsure of the results. The PPP is not certain it can win a majority; the AFC is not sure it can win back its seats – more than likely, it won’t because of the serious political blunders it committed; and APNU (PNC) is not certain it can win a plurality (and control the government) although it is likely to pick up more seats.
The PPP government would prefer that the opposition pass a no confidence motion against it or reject its budget triggering an election. Then it can go to the public and cry for sympathy that the wicked PNC and AFC are against progress and have brought early elections onto the people. The opposition lacks funds for an election and would prefer more time so they can expose more of the PPP’s
shortcomings to turn off more of the PPP’s traditional supporters.
If early elections are called, who will lead the PPP given that the Donald Ramotar-Sam Hinds combination could not win a majority in November 2011? It is not clear they can win a majority now as more voters have lost interest in politics given that politicians from all parties have failed them. The duo did not excite the base and motivate loyalists in November 2011 to come to the polling booths, and today many voters have simply given up on the PPP to address their basic concerns like security, electricity, flooding, etc. Will Bharrat Jagdeo make a come-back and can he win back the base after the mistakes of the November 2011 campaign? Jagdeo may be wise to play the role of an elder statesman in bringing people together and pursuing healing among contentious forces. Will the party (or Ramotar) appeal to Ralph Ramkarran to be its number two? It is generally believed that Ramkarran will bring a lot of credibility to the ticket and restore the PPP’s majority. Will the party go for reconciliation with Ramkarran or Moses Nagamootoo and others who were pushed out so that it can recapture its majority? If Ramotar or the PPP wishes to guarantee a victory, Ramkarran and/or Moses should be his number two and/or number three picks; voters (including businessmen and professionals) told me they will support that trio. There is no doubt among political watchers that a return of Moses and Ralph will bring back the departed flock restoring the party’s majority (and its past glory), but the language of the PPP leadership does not include reconciliation and there does not appear to be room for constructive critics or those who left the party, regardless of the reasons. The names being mentioned to replace Sam Hinds as the prime ministerial candidate have virtually no appeal and will not bring votes to the party. In fact, they will take away votes from the party as many PPP supporters will simply stay home. So the PPP may as well stick with Sam who has more respect than some likely contenders for the slot. Voters don’t feel some of the individuals within the PPP can excite an electorate and many voters told me when I conducted an opinion poll last August, they will not vote because the politicians have failed them. So the PPP faces a real dilemma in a selection of its candidates to lead the ticket.
Will the party go for younger blood? Some of them have mass appeal and can excite the young voters. Several names have been bandied about – Anil Nandlall, Ashni Singh, Frank Anthony, Robert Persaud, Priya Manickchand, Irfaan Ali – but anyone who is chosen will lead to jealousy among the others.
So the PPP faces a predicament and it will not be an easy task to choose the leaders of the ticket or even candidates on its list, because several of them who were on the list last time are most reviled by the electorate.