The PNCR Congress: A great opportunity to snatch the democracy and elections moral high ground

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I shall never be a traditional party man in this polity where maxim leaders rule the roost. I am too liberal. If I join, I might be expelled in a week. All I get are visions of these enclaves with political ideologues locked in enforced prisms with no opportunity to think and speak freely. Be that it may, one would be hard-pressed to ignore what is indisputably an unprecedented race for leadership of the PNC/R. I am certain-when young Forbes Burnham assembled at the law offices of Cameron and Sheperd in 1957 to form this party, he could not have anticipated this much attention to a leadership contest. There are numerous threads in this political tapestry but this opportunity shall be seized upon to highlight what these elections mean for the party, democracy and the country at large. It presents a perfect chance for a party that consistently labors under the yoke of allegations of rigged elections, to reclaim a stake in democracy and credible elections. The attention is unrelenting. The nation is tuned in. Countries within the region are watching and as usual, the international community stares without a blink.

I shall submit that the PNC/R 21st Biennial Delegates Congress is pregnant with the possibility of demythologizing the notion that all internal elections of Guyana’s main political parties are fraught with human engineering. If all goes well and the process is free, fair, credible and transparent, the PNC/R can stake a credible claim to the democracy and the elections moral high ground. As well as that, there is the chance to exorcise some 2020 elections demons. If rationality prevails and the principles of a credible democratic process unfold, there is a bag of electoral gold at the end of the rainbow. This is so because the contest is visible. Guyanese are seeing the diversity of the party and the abilities of the leaders at various levels. The public exchanges are of the highest quality. Young people are encouraged by a party that gives members a chance to contest leadership positions in an open process. Lots of negative myths and fables about the party are being dispelled. All of these factors could culminate in massive benefits for this political entity. Again, only if all goes well.

Ideally, the aforementioned possible blessings that may accrue, if things go well, would motivate any card-carrying member to ensure that things are smooth, transparent and credible. However, Max Weber’s pointed out a long time ago that ‘politics is strong and the slow boring of hard boards’. Niccolo Machiavelli was frank, ‘politics have no relations to morals’. It is well known, in the brutal world of the cut and thrust of Guyanese politics, men and women with gargantuan egos would rather see the ship sink than watch their enemies prevail. It is for this reason, politicians remain the only species who are willing to cut off their noses and spoil their faces. On that consideration, it would not be unreasonable to conclude that in a circumstance where passions are at an unparalleled feverish pitch, things can go south. If the process turns out to be mere kabuki theatre and factions decide to pull rabbits out of hats or engage in the dark arts of party elections, it is over. There will be no coming back from this. Remember, we are only about a year and a half out of the 2020 elections farce where all major parties appear to have been involved in some type of electoral gymnastics. The lack of confidence in party and national elections in this country remains palpable and tolerance is extremely low. The fact that the PNC/R constantly operates with the specter of allegations of rigged elections hovering over its existence, makes the situation even more precarious. So if there are widespread shenanigans, the enemies of the party will get a glorious opportunity to lend credence to the allegation which suggests that the PNC is incapable of administering credible elections, whether in power or out of power. As consequence, the national political fortunes will become very slim and the coalition’s base will become demoralized and enter into a long period of paralysis.

If things don’t go well and another electoral scandal of cataclysmic proportions emerges, this political entity can forget about receiving support from that critical 10% moderate group that essentially decides elections in this country. There is much at stake. It is folly to proceed to a fix but as Barbara Tuchman indicated in her masterpiece, ‘March of Folly’-‘Chief among the forces affecting political folly is lust for power, named by Tacitus as “the most flagrant of all passions’


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