By Vishnu Bisram
Supporters of the opposition PNC in Guyana expressed disappointment in the leadership of Aubrey Norton. Fearing Leader Aubrey Norton can’t take them to victory, supporters of the opposition PNC would like to have an early party congress to choose new leadership. In an ongoing survey being conducted by this writer for NACTA on contemporary issues since early October, overwhelming numbers of supporters of the opposition PNC are of the opinion that their party should hold its bi-annual Congress when due by end of the year to re-validate or choose a new leader and other executive members to manage the affairs of the party over the next two years during which time general elections are due. The last PNC Congress was held in December 2021, and constitutionally, should be held every two years.
Guyanese from all walks of life, supporters of all political parties, are extremely dissatisfied with the representation of the party in and outside of parliament and express serious concern about the state of being of the official opposition (PNC in particular) and declining approval numbers of Aubrey Norton’s performance as Opposition Leader and the future of the party. His approval rating is tanking according to this new survey conducted from earlier this month. It continues a pattern found since the local government elections held last June and affirmed by a subsequent tracking survey conducted by NACTA in August. The party has been steadily losing support under his leadership, and if an election is to be called now the PNC is projected to lose several seats to the ruling PPP and to minor parties. Party supporters and the public in general, supporters of other parties as well, feel the present PNC has been the weakest in the history of opposition politics in Guyana. They would like to see a more effective and stronger opposition to better hold the the opposition to account.
Supporters of the opposition party express a loss of faith in its current leadership. Almost every member of the opposition PNC and the population at large suggest that the PNC urgently hold Congress (internal elections) to choose a new leader and executive that would stem the tide against increasing loss of support.
They feel that the party’s fortune could turn around under new leadership although latest poll numbers put the PPP coasting to re-election in 2025. Among names mentioned as potential PNC leader are Roysdale Forde, Amanza Walton-Desir, Carl Greenidge, Ganesh Mahipal, and Nigel Hughes (who is not a PNC member). All are more popular than Norton and acceptable to the opposition.
The poll interviewed 382 likely voters representing the demographics of the voting population. A significant number of voters, supporters of both major parties, who told interviewers they will not vote again, are not included in the polling. They have given up on politics expressing dissatisfaction with both major parties. Voters were queried about the affairs of the PNC, approval ratings of key government officials, Exxon, the economy, and other matters.
Asked if they are satisfied with the performance of the Opposition Leader, 22% traditional PNC supporters said yes with only 19% of the national population affirming. More traditional PNC supporters gave a favorable rating to President Ali than their leader Norton — 34% of PNC supporters give President Irfaan a thumbs up on performance and 59% nationally (three times that of the Opposition Leader) among all voters. Norton receives no support from those who traditionally vote PPP, and they would also like to see him go although government aligned politicians would like to have him remain as Opposition Leader; they feel a Norton Presidential candidacy would guarantee PPP re-election.
Asked if the PNC should hold a timely national Congress, 89% of traditional PNC supporters responded in the positive. Half of the supporters of all other parties also endorse the view that the PNC should hold Congress the earliest with the other half not expressing an opinion saying it is none of their business to get involved in the affairs of that party. The public at large feel a strong opposition is needed to hold government to account.
The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the position or policy of the THE WEST INDIAN.