Guyana’s Ruling Party Is Being Deceptive And Selective On The Issue Of Proportionality

Donald Ramotar
By Dr. David Hinds

News Americas, GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Thurs. March. 22, 2012: Guyana’s governing People’s Progressive Party, (PPP), has, since the results of the last elections, discovered the virtues of proportionality. It’s their new mantra.

They placed it at the top of the tri-partite agenda. They have now asked the court to pronounce on allocation of seats on the parliamentary committees. So far so good! The problem is that the PPP is being deceptive and selective on the issue.

Here is the deception. President Ramotar is reported in the Stabroek News on March 21, 2012 as saying, in reference to the equal number of seats allocated to the PPP and the opposition, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), that 49% cannot be equal to 40%.
He is correct. But to make their argument the PPP has, not so cleverly, shifted the problem between them and the APNU. The issue, however, is not one between the PPP and the APNU. It’s between the PPP and the Joint Opposition, which includes the APNU and the Alliance for Change, (AFC) – a third part that got 10% of the votes.

In this regard, the PPP’s 49% cannot be equal to the Joint Opposition’s 51%. Yet the PPP wants the same number of seats as the Joint Opposition’s 5. But the PPP cannot have the same number of seats as the Joint Opposition – the latter got more votes and seats than the former. Any Standard One pupil should be able to know that.
Now to the PPP’s selectiveness. The PPP won 49% of the votes but controls 100% of the cabinet. Why doesn’t the PPP include that scenario in their discourse on proportionality? If there is an abuse of the principle of proportionality, that’s it. If the present cabinet were appointed using the principle of proportionality the PPP and the Joint Opposition would be entitled to 9 and 11 cabinet seats, respectively.

The PPP’s apologists would, no doubt, say the rules permit the PPP to have 100% of the cabinet. The rules also permit the Joint Opposition to have a majority of the parliamentary committees and all the leading offices. However, the PPP wants to change the rules for the parliament but not for the cabinet. That is a clear indication of the PPP’s dictatorial mindset. They are bent on domination at all cost.

In this circumstance, the Opposition should move to the court with a counter motion challenging the composition of the cabinet as a violation of Article 13 of the constitution. Such a motion would have more merit that the one brought by the Attorney General on behalf of the PPP.

Article 13 states “The principal objective of the political system of the State is to establish an inclusionary democracy by providing increasing opportunities for the participation of citizens, and their organizations in the management and decision-making processes of the State, with particular emphasis on those areas of decision-making that directly affect their well-being.”

David Hinds is a Political Activist and Commentator. He is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Caribbean and African Diaspora Studies in the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University. His writings can be found on his website guyanacaribbeanpolitics.com