Parties reflect on significance of Local Government election results ahead of 2020 general election

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Guyana’s main political parties offered contrasting views on the outcome of the Local Government Elections (LGE) ranging from a need for ‘deep analysis” to vindication.
The LGE, the second to be held since the coalition, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) came to office in 2015, were contested in 10 towns and 70 Neighbourhood Democratic Councils (NDCs). General elections are constitutionally due here by 2020.
Local Government Elections are held in Guyana using a Mixed Electoral System of Proportional Representation and First-Past-the-Post. Fifty per cent or half of the number of councillors of each Local Authority Area will be elected through the Proportional Representation component and the other 50 per cent through the First-Past-the-Post or Constituency component.
While both the People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) and the main opposition people’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) were pleased with the returns, the Alliance for Change (AFC) a member of the coalition government, which decided to contest the polls as a separate entity did not fare well.
PNCR chairman Volda Lawrence sought to downplay the effects of the results on the APNU, particularly after it lost several seats on the Georgetown City Council during the election held on Monday.
She acknowledged that a low turnout on Monday could have affected the polls generally, noting “so we don’t see it as a loss but we see it as taking stock of the fact that we need to do more to educate people more about local government and that this is their thing”.
She said many people had decided against voting in the LGE because their personal had not materialise.
“I think a very deep analysis needs to be done because you go to various constituencies and they have various issues.
“At this local government elections, everyone is aware that the coalition did not go to it as a single unit but rather the AFC went by themselves and the Partnership went by themselves. It says to us that there is much more to be done on the ground, one on one with people and we have to get out there and get the job done”, she noted.
The PPP/C which won seats in the capital, Georgetown, a traditional PNCR stronghold, also picked up wins in five towns and several NDCs, according to the preliminary results released by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM).
PPP/C general secretary and former president Bharrat Jagdeo described the victories as “massive” even as he too acknowledged the low turnout of voters.
“We intend in the People’s Progressive Party to work very hard to ensure that in the areas where we are in charge, those Councils that we won, we will keep our promises that we made to all of Guyana.
“We will not increase their rates and taxes for the next three years, we will ensure that every quarter, those Councils made public their financial status…And we will try to involve people as far as possible in the work of the Council”.
In 2016, the PPP/C won the overall popular vote by more than 20,000 and Jagdeo told reporters he believes this time around that margin might be much higher, increasing to as much as 40,000 votes.
The AFC executive member, Michael Leonard, told reporters that in the 2016, LGE, the coalition had contested the polls as a united front “so there was no true test to see what is the constituency of the AFC versus the APNU.
“This time we ran alone and we ran alone, started very late for obvious reasons and we all know the reasons, and I think we did relatively well. We know now if this is what we can attract, this is what we can attract. We know where we are and I don’t have any issue with that. We got two seats on our own strength,” he added.
He disagreed with suggestions that the party’s poor showing could weaken its negotiating power with APNU for a successor to their 2015 “Cummingsburg Accord”, insisting that the coalition could not win an election on its own.
“It is very clear from the results across the country that the APNU by themselves cannot defeat the PPP so it seems as though the coalition is necessary,” he said.

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