Leader of the Organisation for the Victory of the People (OVP) Gerald Perreira has called on the major political parties to stay out of local government elections.
According to Perreira, if Minister of Communities Ronald Bulkan and other members of the APNU+AFC government truly believe that “the local government elections are about giving power to the people then the major political parties should not take part in the local government elections. They should leave the contest to community based organisations.”
Previously, trade unionist Lincoln Lewis had said that political parties should not be participating in elections in the Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) since their presence can polarise the atmosphere and lead to a further loss of trust on the part of the citizens in the political process.
Local government elections, which have been delayed for almost two decades, will be run off on March 18 next year. The two major parties – the APNU+AFC coalition and the PPP – have indicated that they will be contesting, most, if not all of the areas.
Perreira told Stabroek News recently that his organisation will not be contesting the local government elections. “Political parties are not in the business of giving power to the people, but rather appropriating power for themselves, allegedly on behalf of the people,” he said.
“That is why OVP does not call itself a party but rather an organisation because our objective is in our name. The Organisation for the Victory of the People can only be realized when political and economic power and decision making is placed in the hands of the people through a network of people’s committees and assemblies that will make the decisions at the base level, and the job of the so-called elected representatives of the people will simply be to execute the people’s decisions at the national level,” he said.
According to Perreira, “Giving local communities a chance to clean up their communities, collect rates and taxes among others, does not constitute the essence of power to the people. Power to the people is realized when we achieve a partyless democracy.”
Asked if it is realistic to expect that political parties will not participate in local/community level politics, Perriera claimed that his position is not a “utopian” one.
“All over the world people are moving beyond traditional political parties which have failed to deliver after years in office, and creating new structures and spaces from which to govern themselves. New times and conditions demand new approaches. Political parties have never been in the business of giving the people power, rather they act as a barrier to the people entering the corridors of power,” he declared.
The OVP leader said because of the most recent incarnations of the political parties, his organisation does not “believe that the local government elections, constituted under the present system, will actually increase the people’s power at this time.” He said his organisation sees that it is “better for us to focus on building new structures at the community level, which will eventually and inevitably free us from the obsolete Westminster system left over from our colonial past. For now, this is the best way for OVP to work towards the creation of an authentic participatory democracy in Guyana.”
Earlier this year, Bulkan had told Stabroek News that the APNU+AFC government would support non-political management of Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs). However, recently, he said parties cannot abdicate their responsibility to ensure that competent persons make up the councils.
“We see significant value in allowing for depoliticized management and administration of our communities but we obviously can’t seek to deter or to discourage political parties or voluntary organisations from contesting these elections because there are many important stakeholders and partners in the process of effective management of communities,” he said.
Under the new system for local government polls, 50% or half of the number of councillors of each Local Authority Area will be elected through the Proportional Representation component and the other 50% through the First-Past-the-Post or Constituency component.