News Americas, GEORGETOWN, Guyana, Weds. May 20, 2015: The evidence shows that Guyana’s ethnic voting pattern has remained constant with each passing election. This recent election was no different.
I have come to the conclusion that the over-emphasis on the need for cross-over voting as the solution to our ethnic polarization is not a very sound approach. When parties talk about cross- over voting, they mean voters crossing over to them from the opposite group, but not the other way around. For example, while the APNU-AFC coalition craved Indian Guyanese voters going over to the Coalition, they obviously were not counting on African Guyanese voters going over to the PPP. If 5% ofAfrican Guyanese had voted for the PPP, it would have looked good for the advocates of cross-over voting, but the Coalition would have lost.
I think more emphasis should be placed on how to produce a positive outcome from a seemingly negative political behavior. The evolution of Partnership Politics from 2011 based on a genuine commitment to jointness may have provided us with more than a glimmer of hope. If we can add to that development, mechanisms for power sharing governance, we could make some headway.
The results of the 2015 elections show that African and Indian Guyanese voted in traditional ways with Africans generally voting for the APNU-AFC coalition and East Indians voting for the PPP. The Amerindians, as they have been doing in recent elections, divided their votes between the two entities, with the bigger share going to the PPP. While more Africans and Amerindians voted for the Coalition, it is clear that a small percentage of East Indians gave their vote to the Coalition. It also seems that the PPP’s share of the African vote was miniscule.
So what are the preliminary conclusions? First, while the support for both parties was dominated by one ethnic group, the APNU/AFC’s support seems to be more broad-based and representative of Guyana. Second, since the APNU-AFC put before the electorate a National Unity platform and the prospect of an ethnically inclusive government, one can reasonably conclude that the Coalition voters voted for an Inclusive government.
Finally, the outcome of the elections shows that ethnic voting could create a multi-ethnic government with a genuinely multi-ethnic platform.
Dr. David Hinds, a political activist and commentator, is an Associate Professor of Political Science and Caribbean and African Diaspora Studies at Arizona State University. More of his writings and commentaries can be found on his You tube Channel Hinds’ Sight: Dr. David Hinds’ Guyana-Caribbean Politics and on his website www.guyanacaribbeanpolitics.com