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When the embattled leftish leader of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro was asked about his opinion on the recently concluded US elections, he mockingly recited the theme song of Miss Venezuela beauty pageant: “On a night as beautiful as this, either of them could win, “. While this appeared to be only a facetious and comedic critique of the US elections, it provided food for deeper thought. Mr. Maduro was inadvertently right. On beautiful elections nights, anybody can win and the party or person who enjoys the will of the people could lose because elections are won months, sometimes years before the day of voting. In the new democracy, being on the side of the will of the people does not guarantee success at the polls if there is no strategic planning.
BEFORE ELECTION DAY
Chiefly among the consideration is what political parties do prior to the day that is expected to reflect the wishes of the people through the democratic voting process. In these modern times with an interconnected world and an engaged regional and global community, strategic planning before Election Day is indispensable. It is simple, if you don’t lobby powerful interests, your beautiful grass root campaign could be null. Evo Morales and the MAS part in Bolivia learned this hard way when the US and the OAS drove them out of office even though they enjoyed unprecedented national support. Additionally, it was clear that the OAS and the United States had the daggers out for Prime Minister Keith Rowley in Trinidad but he was able to skillfully navigate their enterprise by hastily calling elections during the pandemic. Also, the entire region and the world knows Guyana’s APNU+AFC government under the leadership of President Granger had the will of the people on their side but that is all they had/have. The other side had/have the will of the powerful interests. In fact there is a school of thought that believes the coalition government lost the election on when Justice Claudette Singh ended house to house registration and Guyanese marched into the elections with a corrupt voters list.
THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE v THE WILL OF POWERFUL INTERESTS
While elections represent the most important concept and practice of liberal democracies, they can become mere pageants if powerful interests get their way. Once the votes are planted and powerful regional interests are not prepared to recognize the results of an election, the party that enjoys the will of the people is the sore loser before Election Day once on the opposite side of the aforementioned. In a 2016 article, ‘When an election damages democracy’, puts it this way: ‘Although democracy is often equated with elections, the two are not the same. After squelching their opponents, authoritarians often use elections to give themselves a stamp of popular legitimacy’. In this, the victor of elections can lobby powerful interests, curry the favor of critical stakeholders in the diplomatic community, civil society and business interests. Once this is done, the stage is set for a myriad of developments on Election Day that can ensure the will of the people is negated and render the election a mere pageant.
In the modern democracy, political parties with the best strategies, though not enjoying the will of the people, can be victorious.