As if the political controversies were not enough, the rains and inevitable floods brought more woes to the populace. But while the floodwaters and rain will slowly recede, giving way to spring harvesting, our political landscape remains stubbornly arid.
The presidential letter has gone out but the opposition political parties remain adamant – no talks unless the prorogation is ended. The problem with this response is that it contradicts the Opposition’s intention to table the no confidence motion as soon as the prorogation is ended. If there cannot be talks while the prorogation exists, but only if it is ended, what would there be to talk about if a new no confidence motion is to be re-tabled, as promised?
In political conditions of the most adversarial kind, confidential lines of communication exist to resolve issues or contradictions such as outlined above. Channels of communication between the PPP and PNC, apart from the official, have never existed and have never been encouraged, up to the time that I can speak with authority. The leaders have never tolerated even trusted advisers maintaining contact with the other party to facilitate confidential communication or negotiation. Some of this has to do with the distrust that exists between our two main parties. Much of it had to do with our style of maximum leadership, operating under the guise of collective leadership, which is inherently hostile to a system of diffuse responsibilities.
There is, therefore, no way by which my plan could be presented in confidence by the Opposition to the Government so as to resolve the contradiction in the Opposition’s position, as outlined above, unless President Ramotar and Opposition Leader Granger, both sensible leaders, have had the good sense to alter the situation.
To repeat my plan, it is that the Opposition offers to the Government that it would be prepared to have talks as soon as the prorogation is lifted, but that the agenda of those talks would have to be, firstly, the composition of the coalition government that would be established within a specific time frame of weeks and, secondly, the agenda for the Government and National Assembly.
If this proposal is made by official communication, or by any public means, it will be quickly rejected even though President Ramotar might well be sympathetic to a proposal that would allow him to complete his term with solid legislative achievements, which would improve the chances of the PPP/C being returned with an absolute majority. If offered outside the glare of publicity, he may respond outside the box, and positively so.
Hopefully, by Mr. Granger recently mentioning of his support for a national unity government, the Opposition has begun to see the wisdom of either resolving the crisis in the only way that is possible. If the latter rejects them, it would have to explain to the Guyanese people why it is not interested in unity as a means to address the political stalemate. It would have to explain why it is interested in new elections only to restore majoritarianism, a doubtful prospect and, if it succeeds in its quest, to rule as before under a system that for Guyana is now discredited and cannot be indefinitely sustained.
The fact of the matter is that there are seasoned leaders in both political parties who have imbibed a diet of suspicion for decades and are adamantly opposed to any association with the other side. But we can save the pain of another round of bitter contest that will restore the same situation. The vote of the PNC/PNCR/APNU has been stable at about 40 percent except for losses to the AFC in 2006, which it recovered in 2011. The AFC has 10 percent, which can go up or down, but most observers see it going up for the time being. A coalition is not on the cards for the opposition parties. The PPP is at 48 percent but sees a restoration of its majority, which is a possibility but is also heavily disputed. We are therefore looking at a return of the same situation, as now prevails, or a discredited majoritarianism, both breeding the same disfunctionalities.
If the type of solution being offered here would have any prospect of advancement, the leaders of the main political parties must be persuaded to support the necessity for change, not by moral suasion, which will not succeed, but by the hardheaded realities of continuing post-election gridlock upon a future no confidence motion. They must be convinced that a national unity government would be a popular choice.
If so convinced, they must be prepared to exercise the power of leadership at their command and cease pandering to negative forces within their own ranks. The day is either near or has already arrived when political parties will no longer obtain absolute majorities at elections.
To dream that the past glories of majority support and rule might return, would be a pleasant exercise in reminiscence of halcyon times, but hardly a realistic prospect for the future. Therefore, it behooves us, our leaders and our political parties, to seize the time, show leadership, negotiate a political solution, create our own ‘historic compromise,’ and fulfil the promise of 1950.