Tag Archives: universal adult suffrage

Guyana Politics: The suspension of the British Guiana constitution in 1953

By Winston McGowan – Stabroek News – October 31, 2002

British Soldiers arrive in British Guiana in 1953

Turning Back the Clock

1953 was one of the most important years in Guyanese history. It witnessed two major developments. One of them was the country’s first essentially democratic election, held on April 27 in accordance with the provisions of a new and comparatively advanced constitution recommended by the Waddington Commission of 1950.

This constitution introduced several new features into Guyanese political life, including universal adult suffrage at the age of 21 and a ministerial system. It provided for a two-Chamber legislature, comprising a House of Assembly of three official and 24 elected members and an Executive Council.          Continue reading

Guyana Politics: British perceptions of Guyanese politicians in 1953: Cheddi Jagan– By Winston McGowan

By Winston McGowan – Stabroek News  – October 4, 2002

(Left to Right): Jainarine Singh, Sidney King (Eusi Kwayana), ​Forbes Burnham. Janet Jagan, Cheddi Jagan, Joseph Latchmansingh and Ashton Chase – 1953

British perceptions of Guyanese politicians in 1953: Cheddi Jagan

1953 was one of the most momentous years in the history of British Guiana- now Guyana. It witnessed two striking but contrasting events. Firstly, in April the country had a general election under a new constitution distinguished by universal adult suffrage and the grant of a measure of ministerial responsibility to the winning political history. The election resulted in a convincing victory for the People’s Progressive Party, led by Cheddi Jagan with Forbes Burnham as his chairman. The PPP won 51 per cent of the votes cast and 18 of the 24 seats in the new House of Assembly.      Continue reading

Cheddi Jagan and the Politics of Power… – Book review

Cheddi Jagan and the Politics of Power: British Guiana’s Struggle for Independence – Book Review

By Colin A Palmer – Chapel Hill, The University of North Carolina Press, 2010

André Gide when asked who was the greatest French poet replied, “Victor Hugo, alas.” Is this the best book on the political disasters in British Guiana between 1953 and 1964? Yes, alas.

Colin Palmer’s book tells a familiar story: the rise of the People’s Progressive Party, its landslide victory in the first elections with universal adult suffrage, the virulent opposition to it in power, the mistakes of its ministers and the suspension of the constitution. Then came the split between Burnham and Jagan and the racialization of Guyanese politics. Local and US anti-communism stoked the flames and the two became antagonists. Palmer is especially good on the psychological effects of colonialism and the hypocrisy and racist disdain of the USA (as if its anti-communism was not enough); he lays to rest the belief (much cherished by Cheddi Jagan) that the Americans had been responsible for the 1953 suspension of the constitution – that was a British affair. By 1960 the Americans were taking the lead, financing local opposition to Jagan and his party. He fails to point out that in backing Burnham they had absolutely no idea of his politics. Continue reading