THE MIDDLE CLASS – THE NEW DYNAMIC IN GUYANA’S POLITICS


The basis of Guyana’s political outcomes has remained static for many decades. With deeply entrenched ethnic voting patterns, Indian Guyanese, originally constituting close to 50 percent of the population, would always have the upper hand. The two elections in 1957 and 1961 demonstrated to the African Guyanese political leadership that if it wanted political power, it would have to obtain it in coalition and later sustain it through electoral malpractice. And so, after the 1964 elections, in which the PPP obtained the plurality, the PNC and UF, together holding a majority of the seats in the parliament, formed a coalition government. The coalition ended in 1968 and the PNC resorted to electoral malpractice thereafter to maintain political power.

In 1957 the PNC merged with the United Democratic Party (UDP). The UDP, led by John Carter, a prominent lawyer of Mixed heritage, represented the interests of the Mixed and African middle and professional classes. At some point between 1973 and 1985 the support of these groups for the PNC started to wane. But it mostly returned with the election of Desmond Hoyte as President. These groups showed their electoral clout in 2006 when a section of it abandoned the PNC and supported the AFC. Many of these votes went back to the PNC after the election of David Granger as its leader, but it is believed that a significant number remained with the AFC. At the 2011 elections the APNU obtained 40.81 percent of the votes, much in line with its record in free and fair elections, and the AFC got 10.32. The AFC benefited from the loss of between 5 to 7 percent of its votes from previous elections. It obtained 48.60 percent.

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REVISING THE CUMMINGSBURG ACCORD


Both APNU and the AFC appear anxious to amend the Cummingsburg Accord allegedly on the ground that the reality of political office has clashed with the Accord’s constitutionality. A series of interviews over the past two weeks given by President Granger and Prime Minister Nagamootoo suggest that a review of the Accord is underway.

The Cummingburg Accord has two limbs. The first is the number of seats in parliament and ministries in government that each constituent party would be assigned. This apparently went off smoothly. The second limb provides for the more substantive core of the relationship between the parties, namely, the division of responsibility in the management of the government. The Prime Minister was expected to chair the Cabinet and be responsible for domestic affairs except national security while the President would be responsible for foreign affairs and national security.

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