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I don’t see how Mr. David Granger can survive as PNC leader beyond the party’s much anticipated congress. There appears to be a closing of the ranks within the party’s executive in opposition to him. The opposition to the leader is driven in part by his obvious penchant for utilising the real and apparent powers of his various leadership positions to marginalise his detractors and at the same time bolster his grip on power. The party executives have therefore charged him with running a “one man show.” It is a fair criticism—one that has haunted his stewardship of the PNC, the APNU and the coalition government.
The truth of the matter is that the PNC’s political culture is steeped in “one-manism.” From Burnham to Hoyte to Corbin and Granger, the party head has been a maximum leader. The party leader has absolute powers which are legitimised by the party’s constitution and by the culture of her-worshiping that exists among the followers. Although there are formally some institutional checks on the leader, he is in the final analysis, a creature of the party’s culture. This phenomenon is not isolated to the PNC; it is a characteristic of all political parties in our wider Caribbean.
But Mr. Granger is a powerful maximum leader- he heads the party, the APNU and he is Leader of the Coalition’s list. So, although he has been removed from the presidency, his powers to determine who sits in the National Assembly and who leads the opposition caucus is as absolute as that of country’s president. So why, in the face of clear institutional arrangements for the perpetuation of a strong and powerful leader, is the PNC challenging Granger’s maximum leadership? Why the party justifies Burnham’s “one man show” but not Granger’s? The answer is this–unlike the past leaders’ Mr. Granger lacks wide legitimacy within the party. Most party members do not seem to accept his inherent right to lead regardless of the situation. He is not viewed as the quintessential party man who grew up with the party or the charismatic leader who led the children out of bondage.
Incidentally, Mr. Hoyte faced a similar challenge, which he ultimately overcame and became organically PNC. But Mr. Granger does not appear to be that fortunate. A majority of the membership seems to have left him behind. Yet he has refused to step aside. Why? He is gambling on using the formal powers invested in the leader to overcome his lack of legitimacy among the wider membership. As leader of the APNU, he holds 31 parliamentary seats in his hand which he seems to be prepared to use as leverage. This is where the APNU comes in. It is no accident that he plays up the APNU even though as president, he did not include that partnership in decision-making.
I am positing here that should Mr. Granger lose the race to head the PNC, he could transform the APNU into a political party—there is nothing preventing him from doing so. There is nothing in the APNU charter to stop him. This new party would become the formal opposition and the PNC would be without parliamentary representation. Even if some of the MP’s refuse to follow him, he has the power to recall them—hence the dilemma for those who seek to oust him. The AFC would have to relate to him and the new party and not to the PNC. It’s the APNU factor, stupid. The next couple of weeks and months would be interesting times.