Some are behaving as if the victory for the APNU-AFC coalition is a foregone conclusion. I am not so convinced. There are burning questions, mostly from a statistical slant that have not been answered. The most critical question is whether the formation of this coalition and the PPP’s message to Indians on the coalition will trigger racial voting among Indians. This is because at possibly around 300,000 (based on my hypothesis from statistical changes in two more recent censuses), they are by far the largest ethnic group and are approximately 35% larger than the next biggest ethnic group, Africans, who may possibly number approximately 223,000. The African and Indian populations are mature populations as evidenced by their decline and stagnation. Their voting age populations are going to be almost identical. They are likely registered at the same rate for the 2015 polls, particularly given the bloated size of the present Offical List of Electors. So, that 35% advantage holds in the election.
If we put the voting age populations at 70% of the wider African and Indian populations, there are roughly 54,000 more Indian voters than African voters. That is a massive numerical and statistical advantage. The other part of the problem is that the Mixed and Amerindian populations (crossover voters) are not going to increase their participation in 2015. Much worse, I believe 2015 could see a further decline in Mixed and Amerindian electoral participation in 2015 due to the egregious lack of Amerindian and Mixed leaders in the forefront of the PPP and the coalition slates, and the AFC likely loss of vital crossover voters who are dismayed with its loss of neutrality and autonomy. What this means is that the coalition is unlikely to get any help from crossover voters in bridging that 35% gap and in fact, the coalition could lose some of these voters who are primarily AFC crossover voters.
The PPP is also unlikely to get any help from crossover voters in 2015 and like the coalition may experience a decline in support from crossover voters. The problem for the coalition is that the coalition depends on crossover voters to a higher degree than the PPP and the coalition has no numerically dominant base to turn to, to try and increase its vote count.
This is why the coalition’s appeal to the Indian voters becomes downright crucial and is really the heart and soul of this election. That appeal has to be strong enough to attract a vital segment of Indian voters to vote for the coalition and/or assuage Indian voters that Indian ethnic security is not threatened by the coalition which in turn would assure a vital segment of Indian voters so that they do not vote at all. Is this coalition as constructed capable of overcoming the Indian ethnic fear, which will be fanned to its utmost by the PPP with its stronger election machinery in the bottom houses of this country? Most definitely not.
The lack of a rotating presidency with Nagamootoo getting the presidency even for 1.5 or 2 years is a catastrophic coalition blunder that makes it easier for the PPP to stir up Indian ethnic fear about the PNC and the booting of the UF, etc. It matters not what so-called fail-safe mechanisms the AFC claims are in the Cummingsburg Accord, the bottom line is that every single Vice President position or grand concession can be erased by the President and the entire country knows that very well, because we are in election season due to the recent outrageous exercise of presidential powers. The PPP will be peddling this propaganda to its ambivalent constituents in more graphic racial terms, and in the absence of a rotating presidency, the coalition has no answer to it.
At the end of the day, those who are well aware of the sickness of racial politics know that for the two major ethnic groups, they will prefer the worst government of their own ethnicity than a government of the other ethnicity. No matter how some PPP supporters are disgusted with the PPP, if there is ever the foreboding sense that the coalition could land power and the ultimate power of the presidency could land in the hands of the PNCR-APNU, they will come out and vote PPP and still cuss out Freedom House afterwards. It is the tragic truth that the coalition has not confronted. Moses Nagamootoo’s success in 2011 was not built on these stark all-or-nothing terms that could be propagated by Freedom House in 2015.
With Mixed and Amerindian participation rates set to likely decline even further in 2015, this is already an African v Indian voting contest. The PPP has the advantage in resources (use of public resources included) and outreach. The basic message is that if the coalition wins, the PNCR (now APNU) gets the presidency. That alone could be dynamite against the coalition. The entire Cummingsburg Accord is a joke as constituted because it offers nothing to relieve the immense numerical odds stacked against the coalition on election day. It gives the corrupt PPP at its lowest support point an escape route to win power again, not on acceptance but on fear. Even if the AFC got the presidency for one year initially, it would have lessened the anxieties of the Indian voting constituency, provided an opening to the coalition and weakened the potential of the PPP’s propaganda.
The other angle that is troubling with the Cummingsburg Accord is the recall legislation, which could see AFC or APNU MPs being recalled by the Representative of the List. Now, some will argue that the PPP did intensify the racial campaigning in 2011 but still lost the majority. Indeed, that was the case, but the stakes were very different. This is a bald win or lose scenario. There is no plurality or minority government. If the PPP performs as it did in 2011, it will surrender the government and presidency. That powerful distinction will resonate with supporters. The PNCR (APNU) has never won more than 165,000 votes, even with a 90% turnout and 408,000 voters voting. In the post-2006 electoral landscape marred by massive non-participation and lower turnout, APNU may have hit its pinnacle in 2011. The PPP has lost votes in every election since 2001. Will it continue this trend in 2015? Likely not given the all-or-nothing dynamic to the 2015 election. If the PPP manages to hold its 166,000 votes in 2015 and APNU delivers 140,000, can the AFC deliver 27,000 votes to overcome the PPP? That will depend on whether the AFC can hold onto its crossover and Indian voters. No matter how corrupt the PPP is, the numbers favour the PPP in a two-horse race. The coalition still has time to fix this debacle or the AFC or APNU should pull out of the deal. APNU and the AFC will not survive if the PPP wins a majority again.