Guyana Government Unpopular, Hence Delay in Elections

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By Dr. Vishnu Bisram

The latest North American Caribbean Teachers Association (NACTA) opinion poll conducted in Guyana just before the no confidence motion in December showed the coalition APNU-AFC government in very poor light.

This one of the reasons for challenging the defeat in the no confidence motion. The government is seeking to buy time to rebuild its image having been humiliated in the local government elections of November 12. It is facing the specter of a huge loss if elections were to be called now and if it is free and fair. The government needs time to organize a victory which it would engineer if given several months as happened between 1966 and 1992 during Burnhamism.

The poll conducted by this writer in December showed little support for the 2019 budget approved by Parliament. People don’t think it will lead to any significant improvement in their lives. The poll also reveals that government is using SOCU to target PPP politicians. And the government’s standing among the public continues to diminish as measured against preceding opinion polls — attributed largely to failed policies on combating crime as well as the handling of economic matters, and a sleuth of other critical issues. More people than ever dislike the job the government, President, Prime Minister, and Speaker are doing. The latest poll findings arrive on the heels of a local election that saw big successes for the opposition PPP even in government strongholds. The government has been found to be very unpopular as it heads into a debate on a no confidence motion on Friday.

The government’s policies have been having a terrible impact on public perception on approval ratings of the administration. The government closes out 2018, its approval rating stands at just 23%, the lowest in 42 months of existence. The President and the Prime Minister are faring better than the government at 40% and 38% respectively but trail that of the Opposition Leader who soars at 62%. The low approval ratings for government, President and PM are not surprising given that people incessantly complain about governance, the economy, corruption, arrogance of officials, declining standard of living, health, joblessness, inflation, impoverishment, drug trafficking, and crime, among other grouses.

The low approval numbers of the government and officials does not augur well for the re-election of the coalition that has been struggling over governance ever since it was catapulted into office in May 2015. It has been characterized by one unforced error after another.

According to the poll’s findings, almost everyone complains about crime, state of economy and related matters, and corruption. And a large majority, particularly Indians and Amerindians, also complains about perceived racism and victimization. Some 82% of respondents described the state of the economy as bad and likely to get worse.

Asked to choose the most serious problem facing country, 38% identify crime followed by unemployment (20%), economic issues (18%), corruption (10%), health (6%). But the government seems to find some favor in its handling of infrastructure and education although people complain about corruption in the former.

Asked if they think the 2019 budget will improve their life, only 14% said yes with 79% saying no and 7% having no comment. Almost everyone complains about deteriorating conditions of life in Guyana. And few are confident in their future well-being even though oil money is on the horizon in just over a year.

People do not see an improvement in the country’s social, political and economic conditions in the short term. Thus, when asked if they have an opportunity to migrate to USA, 90% said yes.

Asked if they are surprised at the LGE outcome, 78% said no, 6% said yes, with the others not offering a comment. Voters have been disappointed with the governance of the coalition.

Asked if they think government is using SOCU to target leading PPP political figures with criminal charges, 60% said yes, 28% said no, and 12% no opinion.

Asked if the approve of the job the government is doing, 23% said yes with 69% disapproving and 8% making no comment. The President, David Granger, has an approval of 40% and a disapproval of 50%. The PM, Moses Nagamootoo has an approval of 38% and a disapproval of 53%. The Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo, has an approval of 62% and a disapproval of 31%. The President, PM, and the government would need a successful political strategy to reverse the decline in their popularity as the polling trends signal possible trouble for the coalition’s 2020 re-election prospect.

Asked who should be the PPP Presidential candidate, Irfaan Ali, Anil Nandlall, and Frank Anthony resonated as the main contenders among voters. Dr. Vindya Persaud and Gail Texeira were also mentioned but with minimal support. Within the 35 members Central Committee that chooses the nominee, one candidate is way ahead of the others and will seal the nomination with a wide margin.

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The views expressed in this column are solely those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of the THE WEST INDIAN.

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