The constituency system will entrench the rule of one party

Dear Editor,

I read with interest a letter authored by Tarron Khemraj, Mark DaCosta and Terrence Simon, captioned, ‘The PPP/C’s refusal to hold local government elections is hurting all Guyanese’, published in your newspaper on August 7. The three writers registered their call for the holding of the long-overdue local government elections. I take this opportunity to join with the three writers to also register my call for these elections, knowing that, boosted by the related bills passed by Parliament and assented to by the President, they can tremendously contribute to the revival of local democracy and its attendant benefits.

Of concern to me, however, is the call by the three writers for us to revert to a constituency-based electoral system and to do away with the PR (list) system.

This call seems to be ignoring both the history and the demography of Guyana. We already had the constituency system in place before we adopted the list system. The constituency system resulted in the same problem the writers want to resolve, that is, the entrenched rule of one party. In the period immediately preceding the 1964 election, the first election, conducted under the list system, the distribution of seats per votes was skewed in favour of the party which enjoyed the plurality of votes. Historically, this party has been the PPP.

In the 1953 election, the PPP copped 51% of the votes but got 75% seats in Parliament. This amounted to absolute control of Parliament with only 51% of votes cast. In the same election, the other parties (there was no PNC then) got 49% of votes cast but only 25% of seats. In the 1957 election (this was after the split in the PPP), the PPP got 47.6% of the votes cast with 65% of the seats (this is one seat shy of a 2/3 majority in Parliament without a simple majority of votes cast), while the PNC got 39.4% of the votes cast with only 28% of seats, and the other parties, 13% of the votes and 7% of the seats. In that election, although the combined opposition copped 52% of the votes cast, they were only entitled to a combined 35% of seats. In the 1961 election, the PPP got 42% of the votes cast with 57% of the seats, while the PNC got 41% of the votes with 31% of seats and the UF, 16% of votes with 12% of seats. It means that with a combined majority of 57.3% of votes cast for the opposition parties, those parties were only entitled to 43% of the parliamentary seats. With the implementation of the list system, distributive justice prevailed which made it possible for the opposition parties (PNC and UF) to enter into a post-election coalition and form the government in 1964.

In the election immediately after the implementation of the list system, the distribution of seats per votes was as follows: the PPP got 46% of the votes cast with 45% of the seats; the PNC got 41% of the votes with 41% of the seats; the UF got 12% of votes with13% of seats.

Based on this historical experience, and on a lack of specificity and clarity relating to any special

configuration of the constituency system which could correct the structural biases outlined above, the proposition by these three writers seems to be giving the PPP a lifeline at the very moment the party appears to be experiencing its decline.

Yours faithfully,

Duane Edwards

Comments  

Chronicle article libelled Clifton Bacchus and damaged his business

Dear Editor, I act on behalf of Clifton Bacchus, personally, and in his capacity as the majority shareholder of Sleepin International Hotel& Casino Inc of Lot 289 Church Street, Queenstown, Georgetown.

Two NWD cases should be re-investigated

Dear Editor, The Amerindian Action Movement of Guyana (TAAMOG) is calling on the Guyana Police Force (GPF) and the Director of Public Prosecution to order a re-investigation into the death of two Amerindian children killed as a result of a speedboat accident, where the occupants failed to render assistance to the Basil Da Silva family on 26th August, 2016 on the Waini River, about two miles from Morawhanna.

It was earlier proposed that UG have smoke zones as well as smoke free ones

Dear Editor, Some years ago when I served as the Secretary of UGSS, the then Health Minister, Dr Leslie Ramsammy held the position that the University of Guyana should be made a smoke free zone.

There is a difference between employees of the state and employees of the government

Dear Editor, Having read Maxwell E Edwards’ response to Chevy Devonish addressing the issue whether the President has the authority to direct the Police Service Commission not to act on the list which forms the recommendation for promotions in the Police Force, there arise issues for further deliberation.

Unauthorised group soliciting donations for Belle Vue Sports Club

Dear Editor, Belle Vue Sports Club has been made to understand that another group of people is using the club’s name to solicit donations (monetary and other forms) both in person and on social media.

Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly.

We built stabroeknews.com using new technology. This makes our website faster, more feature rich and easier to use for 95% of our readers.
Unfortunately, your browser does not support some of these technologies. Click the button below and choose a modern browser to receive our intended user experience.

Update my browser now

×