With the coming of the APNU+AFC coalition in government, Guyanese are getting a lesson in realpolitik. As is evident by recurring disclosures to date, the government is backtracking on key commitments and principles espoused when both parties were in the opposition benches in Parliament. The lofty ideals and promises of pre-May 11, 2015, are now being replaced by political opportunism and pragmatism. And the former critics of the haughtiness of officialdom are now becoming ardent practitioners.
These developments are not surprising to the seasoned observer of politics, and they are not restricted to Guyana. Centuries ago, the Bard of Avon, William Shakespeare, informed us “If to do were as easy as to know what were good to do, chapels had been churches and poor men’s cottages princes’ palaces. It is a good divine that follows his own instructions. I can easier teach twenty what were good to be done than be one of the twenty to follow mine own teaching.”
The May 11, 2015 elections offer lessons for all. The leaders of the PPP have been taught that they do not hold a monopoly on government and their party in government was not irreplaceable. The lesson for the new government is perhaps aptly reflected by the statement of Dr Norton, Minister of Public Health. When faced with continuing maternity deaths at the public hospital and reminded of his earlier criticisms of his predecessor, he is reported as saying, “[When] you are on the outside you don’t understand what is taking place. Now you are on the inside you are seeing it” (SN, September 28).
As for the electorate, they are learning that while the players have changed, the game remains the same. Politicians will tell them what they want to hear but, once in government, they will go ahead and do what they want. In opposition, APNU and the AFC were good at talking the talk. Now when it is time to walk the talk, they are stumbling. Time will tell whether these are missteps of a new government or fatal flaws of machiavellian politics.