The Initiative urges Guyanese to embrace national government

Stabroek News
March 18, 2001

The Initiative, a group of prominent citizens, is calling on individual parties, groups and organisations to embrace a system of governance which is truly national in character, come March 19.

A release from The Initiative said that in such a system there will be no victors and vanquished, no exclusion or marginalisation, but rather the best minds devoted to the common purpose of genuine security and the sustainable development of Guyana.

A recently concluded study on the hopes and aspirations of the Guyanese people by The Initiative on the `Political Attitudes and Party Choices in Contemporary Guyana' indicated that only 41% of the population was satisfied with the `winner-take-all' system of governance. The release said that "this no doubt, was composed of the majority of the 29% of respondents who favoured the PPP and the 25% who favoured the PNC to govern them as opposed to the 35% of the respondents who favoured some kind of coalitional formula."

According to the release 24% of the respondents clearly needed more information to review other options and consequently could not decide on this crucial issue.

Against this backdrop The Initiative welcomed the indication in the PNC REFORM Manifesto of "moving away from the traditional winner-take-all approach and moving towards a democratic system based on the inclusion of individuals, their communities and their organisations in decision-making about their affairs."

The release said that while the 2001 modified constitution continued to promote the Westminster winner-take-all electoral system, "there is empirical evidence that the ordinary people want the system, which dispenses patronage, alienates a significant number of the populace and forever bequeaths to the active participants a generous dose of unhealthy, if not fratricidal, competition to be changed to one which guarantee greater elements of inclusion and cooperation."

The release said that even more serious are the other areas of desired constitutional change, which could not see the light of day because they presumably would undermine the hitherto cherished right of the victor to dispense with and disregard the vanquished in this game of the winner taking all. Guyanese, the release said, have been the principal casualties of this ethic, which would forever pit the two significant racial groupings against each other as they compete for space, which is perceived to be exclusive.

The Initiative said that "no doubt the former apparent opposition by the two major political parties to a coalition option must in large measure take responsibility for a concept of a non-winner-take-all option not being recommended by the Constitution Reform Commission." It noted that some of the smaller parties such as the Guyana Action Party/Working People's Alliance and the Rise Organise and Rebuild have vigorously promoted the concept of a national government even if it is a transitory one, to establish the basis for a durable state of social cohesion.