Reply to "The race drum is out in Jagdeo’s hands"

skeldon_man posted:

The nastiness and "black gyaad" behavior you see in Guyana news show how these skanky racists think that Guyana only belongs to the negroes. Their comments on FB do not hide their hatred for the Indians. 29% want too control 71%.

Touch and go 2020: Some extra insights from 2016 LAPOP

The previous column utilized data from the 2016 Latin American Public Opinion Project (LAPOP) survey to gauge how people voted in the 2015 general election. I argued that if there is persistence in voting behaviour in Guyana, then the somewhat dated survey (mid-2016) could still be relevant for present analyses. The previous column discussed the percentage voter turnout for Afro-Guyanese, East Indians, Amerindians and mixed-Guyanese, as well as the “ethnic market share” of each of the main political parties. The survey shows – as do the previous ones in the post-1992 era – that there is a strong correlation between ethnicity and voting. Over the years, I have called this outcome strategic pro-ethnic voting. There is a “market” of around 12%, perhaps 15%, of independent swing voters. The same pattern was observed by Professor Ralph Premdas for earlier elections. He had a comprehensive study of the 1961 election in a book he published in 1995.

Persistence in pro-ethnic voting could occur because most people believe that their economic and cultural interests are dependent on leaders of their respective group winning the election. Intra-group social networks are strong in Guyana, resulting in the connection of opportunities for gaining jobs in the civil service, a house lot, the contract to clean drains in a locality, a government scholarship, rent-seeking endeavours and other goodies.

On the other hand, the political leaders themselves have to pursue strategies (make a credible commitment) that assure their respective base voters the goodies are coming if they can only vote for their traditional party. Over the years, I have outlined (as did others) how the PPP has mobilized its base by scaring it into conformity. However, in terms of actual deliverance, the PPP destroyed – by policy choice – the livelihood of its working class base while enriching a small group connected to the party.

On the other hand, the PNC’s strategy focuses explicitly on keeping heightened expectation of economic benefits that will flow to its base if it does not split its votes. Two recent examples are in order. Firstly, we now have the famous case of a senior member of the APNU+AFC government and PNC Chairperson, Ms. Volda Lawrence, stating: “the only friends I got is PNC, so the only people I could give work to is PNC” (S.N. 30/11/2018). Now, this is setting up the expectation that if African-Guyanese do not want to be marginalized by some other group they have to stay with the PNC. On the issue of marginalization, I have repeatedly called for data (I really don’t understand what Mr. Jagdeo’s minions are doing) comparing the ethnic distribution of house lots and home ownership during the PPP period and the housing distribution under the previous PNC administration (which Mr. C. B. Greenidge talked about in his book).

Most times, and secondly, the PNCR outsources its ethnic mobilization – last week we saw to ACDA. The Guyana Chronicle (GC) reported a case in which senior PNC member, Mr. Vincent Alexander, is leading the charge in connecting reparations and ancestral land reclamation. I thought these were different issues, but connecting them provides a clever backdoor signalling mechanism for base mobilization (G.C. 21/05/2019). In addition, Demerara Waves reported online that senior ACDA leaders perceive East-Indian control of NDCs, which is supposedly preventing a thriving system of African village economies (D.W. 19/05/2019).

The news report in Guyana Chronicle tried to be measured, but it fails to account for factors in economic history, geography and ecology that stymied the African village movement after emancipation. I will not repeat them here as they are in several of my columns and academic papers; suffice to say, Mr. Eric Phillips thinks that 18% of Guyana’s landmass would do wonders for propelling African village economies. Two sticking points, however, are the entire coastal plain where slavery, indenture and the plantation economy existed is less than 5% of the land area of Guyana and total arable land is approximately 8%. Therefore, I have to conclude that this episode reads more like a base mobilization strategy meant to shape expectations or reward if the PNC is in power and fear of the other. As I have said in the past, there is something to the ancestral land claims. It must be addressed, but there has to be some serious historical accounts – not the kind of history pointing out who suffered more than whom.

Last week, I discussed how voters said they voted in 2015 and the rate of turnout by different groups. Let us first take a look at party identification of potential voters using the 2016 survey. Amerindians associate with the APNU+AFC at a rate of 58% compared with 42% for the PPP/C. These numbers are fairly close to how they said they voted in 2015 (see previous column). African Guyanese associate with APNU+AFC at a rate of 97.1% compared with 2.2% for PPP/C, again reflecting closely how they indicated they voted. East Indians associate with the PPP/C at a rate of 67.1% compared with 32.9% for APNU+AFC. The 32.9% is slightly above the 29% who said they voted for the coalition. However, as noted in the previous column there should be some adjustments for those who provided no response to the question asking how people voted.


Regardless of how one thinks about these numbers, they do not confirm the claim from some quarters that East Indians did not support the coalition at a rate sufficient to win. There might be a price to pay as well for the attempts to belittle (and disrespect) the contribution of East Indians in the AFC (and outside) to the PNC’s ability to hold power. In 2015, I made a comment that value is often created on the margin. The PNC Facebook folks thought I was being racially insensitive. They are usually projecting psychologically, however. Perhaps these active supporters will get the meaning of marginalism if there is a free and fair election next year.

Mixed voters indicated an association rate of 92.5% with the APNU+AFC and 7.5% with the PPP. In the 2014 LAPOP survey, mixed voters associated with the PPP at a rate of 22%, AFC at 18.9% and PNC at 54.1%. If this trend is accurate, the PPP has lost significant support from mixed Guyanese.

Another useful set of data points from the LAPOP survey pertain to how people are expected to vote in the next presidential election. This is perhaps the most unstable part of the LAPOP data set. Nevertheless, I will discuss them since they provide some information one year out from the 2015 general election. In general, this aspect of the survey suggests the PPP’s base is a lot more wobbly than that of the PNC’s. For example, 10.8% of African Guyanese indicated that they will not vote in the next general election, compared with 19.8% for the PPP/C. Mixed Guyanese and Amerindians suggested that 16.2% and 14.4%, respectively, would not vote in the next election.

Interestingly, just 39.1% of East Indians said they will vote for a party different from APNU+AFC (read PPP/C), while only 3.1% African Guyanese mentioned they will vote for another party. Therefore, one year out, a significantly larger percentage of East Indians said they will split their votes compared with the Afro-Guyanese population. Mixed Guyanese and Amerindians indicate at a rate of 10.4% and 13.2%, respectively, that they will vote for a party different than the incumbent coalition.

Given that we are just under a year away from elections, the moving variables are the Irfaan Ali candidacy (a man for the rural base!), divisions associated with the NCV, the capture of the PPP, and the two new and credible third parties – ANUG and Mr. Shuman’s party. Mr. Jagdeo and his like-minded group should consider that getting back the Berbice votes might not be enough. The like-minded group should also consider that a structural break started in 2011, as well as the fact that a reformed PPP/C can get the Berbice votes and the urban East Indian ones.



Skelly, take a peek at this article and the LAPOP Survey, it shouldn't be taken lightly, who the  majority of the mixed population supports.