There is a tendency on the part of some people to devalue our democracy because in their opinion it is more the result of ‘ethnic arithmetic’ rather than the ‘true’ expression of the will of the people.
This is an erroneous view and needs to be debunked, since any democracy in whatever form, shape or configuration is always superior to any other governance mechanism known to man. One can never have too much democracy in the same way that we can never have too much of fresh air.
I do recognise that there are challenges to democracy, especially when it comes to a multi-racial society like ours where there are two dominant ethnic groups. We live in what sociologists refer to as a plural society. Voting preferences and behaviour are often conditioned by ethnic loyalty which may not correspond to otherwise rational choices. In other words, voting preferences tend to be at times less issue oriented and more group oriented.
But this is the reality of our political life and it cannot be wished away. Instead, we have to continue to find ways in which our democracy can become much more enriched, not by tampering with our democratic essence but by putting in place the necessary mechanisms to make governance more participatory and inclusive regardless which of the two major political constituents are elected to govern.
Our democracy has been evolving over the decades from one of privileged voting as during the pre-1953 period to one of representative democracy as is currently the case. There were periods in our post-independence history when our democracy was subverted, but the democratic spirit to have a government elected through the expressed will of the electorate was always paramount in the minds of the Guyanese people.
Democracy is premised on the belief that people are sovereign. It is the expressed will of the majority that forms the basis for governance and this has always been the hallmark of democracies throughout the free world. And this is how it must be since any attempt to depart from this time-honoured principle is fraught with dangers as our own experience in Guyana under the PNC regime has demonstrated.
Today as we approach yet another general and regional election, the opposition parties are in secret talks on how to come up with an electoral alliance which could address the race question. The fact that the talks seem to be going nowhere is indicative of the deep-seated and entrenched nature of race-based politics.
This is why the need to establish trust in our political culture is so important. In this regard the incumbent PPP/C alliance has a built-in political advantage. It is the largest and most representative political party in terms of multi-racial support.
This is attributable to the fact that the party has always embraced values that are universal and which transcend the narrow confines of race. The development philosophy pursued by the PPP has lifted all boats, and people today are enjoying a much higher standard of living than at any period in our history.
President Donald Ramotar has continued this tradition of development with a human face which in essence is one of putting people at the centre of his development paradigm. This is also why the President wasted no time in ensuring that the benefits of a reduction in the price of fuel trickle down to people by way of lower electricity costs to consumers.
This coming election is essentially one of securing a new mandate for President Ramotar and his PPP/C administration to continue with his development paradigm. As the President said, he remained confident that he and his party would win a resounding victory having regard to his administration’s solid record of progress and development.