Local Government Elections – No room for complacency by Government – editorial

Local Government Elections – No room for complacency 


If anyone is reading the signs correctly, the government has resigned itself to the fact that it did not do as well as it would have wanted in the Neighborhood Democratic Councils (NDCs) but it outdid the PPP in Georgetown and four other towns. Its intention appears to be not to dwell on the negative but the positive.

According to one of its ministers, the government is “quite satisfied” with the outcome. The administration opined that the elections and results confirm that its strategy has worked,”
This indeed is not the right time for the government to look back; it has to look forward and engage the people in the decision-making process. The LGE is over and it is no use crying over spilt milk.

The clearest sign of relief for the government is its impressive victories in Georgetown, New Amsterdam, Linden, Bartica and Lethem. The President was stately in his acknowledgement of the LGE results and was upbeat as he spoke to the nation about the democratic process and the future of the municipalities and NDCs.

We are soon likely to see changes in personnel and strategies as the government grapples with the LGE results. It has to recognize that it squandered a good opportunity that could have resulted in more victories at the NDCs had it started its campaign earlier.

It assumed that it had done enough. Clearly, it underestimated the political landscape and the mood of the people who believe that the government rested largely on its laurels for too long, believing that its election machine which had won the polls in May 2015, would deliver a widespread victory again. It did not happen. The results of the LGE suggest that the government cannot just stick to its old plans; it must seek to better manage the economy and the affairs of the country.

Truth be told, the government did not have well-oiled political machines in all the NDCs districts, and although it had the resources, it ran an election campaign which was more akin to an outfit playing for second best in the smaller communities. The PPP, even though it was tempered by its significant defeat in Georgetown and the other towns, nonetheless was able to boast of winning the majority of the NDCs and the popular vote.

The PPP dominated in the NDCs, while APNU+AFC reigned supreme in the municipalities. Not only was the PPP humiliated in Georgetown where it won only two districts, but it also performed poorly in Bartica and Lethem. It was battered in Linden, where for the first time it did not win a seat. However, its margin of victory in the NDCs probably eased some of that pain.
Both APNU+AFC and the PPP claimed victory, and rightfully so, but the former has to be cognizant of the fact that the PPP won 48 of the 71 districts and the popular vote.

A careful examination of the election results revealed that voting along racial lines is alive and well in Guyana, and is likely to remain that way for the foreseeable future. The claim by the PPP that its strategy was not to focus too much on the Municipalities should be taken with a grain of salt, because it contested all of the Municipalities. This has been the modus operandi of the PPP after every election, especially in areas where it did poorly. It is a normal afterthought which it cleverly uses to distract the people from the real issues.

The government as indicated earlier, is satisfied with its victory in the municipalities, but it should recognise that it has a lot of work to do to gain more votes in the NDCs. There is no room for complacency.

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