Not time yet for third party

Dear Editor,

Once again, there reigns excitement and optimism in some quarters that a third party(ies) would enter the political fray and be the game-changer and difference maker.  Once again, I am pained to remind citizens so inclined that, at least for the near future of another ten years, this is more wishful thinking and the too easy dismissal of the realpolitik of the settled local arena.

A third party-any third party of minimal substance and resourcefulness-is something to be welcomed.  The emergence of that indigenous-based new party could mean something in the long run, if allowed to gain traction and momentum.  I wish its leaders and people well.  I do so as I draw focus on that telling collection of words: if allowed to gain traction and momentum.  What does that mean?  What is inferred here?

To ask and answer, I submit that the proven resources of the majors-the coalition together or apart, and the opposition-are formidable.  There is history, loyalty, organization, skills, and money.  They also have a stranglehold first on their own segments, and then also amongst the swing votes of supposed moderates, centrists, the disgusted, the sickened, the yearning, the angry, and the just plain weary.  All of these citizens would criticize and flay to their hearts content and then like the good Guyanese folks that they are end up in the same line and on the same side of the voting divide.  This is so whether young or old, male or female, poorly educated or richly credentialed, poverty stricken or materially prosperous. The statistics are there: the ethnic loyalists hold true to form, and the much-touted swing votes swing in the same direction.  While demographics are undergoing all kinds of permutations ethnically, the voting mindsets of those same citizens remain immovably nailed to ethnic planks.  Yes, the people are more mixed; but the votes remain unmixed, despite the huge overhangs of disenchantments with the two old.

In addition, the PPP and PNC are not about to surrender a singe vote, community, or region without a fight to the bitter end.  Both could battle well in the underhanded; it is definitely unfair odds and a near insurmountable contest at this particular time for any heralded newcomers.  Just look around: Mugabe held on as though his life depended in so doing; and Maduro sticks around immovably while suffering is widespread and a whole country falls apart.  The locals are cut from the same cloth and will ferociously guard against intruders.  The opportunity for new groups, unknown groups, and admittedly little groups are subject to all manner of political subterfuges: buyouts, sellouts, partnerships, and divide and dilute to diminish.  Remember: not a single vote, not one blade of grass.

Then there is this matter of money.  Ready money (too often, not clean) pours in from the usual suspects and entities with vested interest in either side winning.  The most that new parties can expect are token sums.  I am intrigued by the possibility of business principals (blue-chip, arrivederci, nouveau riche, and otherwise) breaking away from the old-line parties and funding political upstarts; they could hedge their bets and buy some recognition, but their money has to talk. 

Most citizens talk the good talk through every crease between their teeth about how bad both the PPP and PNC were and are, and then turn around and cast fateful ballots without a qualm for one or the other.  When a new group dares to raise head or hand, it is humoured at best, and distanced from at the worst.It would be encouraging to observe the swing presence of a vocal vibrant third party; this has to be measured against the record of predecessors from the UF to the AFC; although the AFC has held a corner, they get swallowed up like the Civic.  Perhaps this time will be different; perhaps all those swing parties of old and new (TUF, WPA, Civic, AFC and the new guys) can form their own coalition.  Otherwise, I do not think that the ground is ready, that it is receptive enough, fertile enough, and rewarding enough to transform into the difference-maker that is required.  Timing is everything; and message, members, money, and machinery all require considerable time.  The time for a desired third party needs the mandatory lead time of ten years for it to be a change agent.  In the interim, it is the regular menu.

Yours faithfully,

GHK Lall

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