February 16 2020
If there is a swing vote bloc in Guyana, it is the mixed-race vote. Their actions, along with the Amerindian voting behaviour to a lesser extent, have played a massive role in why we got a minority government in a recent election. They may very well decide the fate of this election. There are several key factors at play with how the mixed-race vote could behave in this 2020 election.
Firstly, a majority of mixed-race voters stopped voting for the race parties (PPP and APNU/PNC) and stayed home. That started in 2006 and has repeated ever since. With the raw ethnic tribalism on display from the PPP and the PNC arm of APNU in this election season – which is worse than the sixties considering the advance in education in Guyana since then – this trend is likely to continue. So, those mixed-race votes are not returning for the PPP or APNU.
Secondly, it is likely that the already plummeting pool of mixed-race voters who support the PPP and APNU further declines in 2020. That is a nuclear blow to the PPP and APNU. Their ethnic constituencies are declining (low birth rates, higher mortality rates, migration, etc) and cannot deliver a majority anymore. They desperately need crossover voters. That pool is dying right before their eyes. They have no one but themselves to blame. Which non-African or non-Indian in their right mind would vote for the PPP and APNU led by Jagdeo and Granger after witnessing the debacle we’ve encountered in the past decade? The demise of the AFC, which has caricatured itself into a mockery, has also driven some mixed voters away. Freddie Kissoon has stated in his column that he had access to several private polls conducted by both APNU and the PPP and both parties are not in majority terrain. It would be reasonable to contend that declining mixed-race and Amerindian voting blocs support is playing a strong role in this.
The third factor is oil. Every voter and every ethnic group knows there is possible astounding wealth to be had. This is why the ethno-racialism in this election has surpassed the sixties. They major races want racial domination. There is nothing in it for the mixed-race voter if the two race parties gain power. That depressing fact would drive some to vote strategically, which is the next natural progression from ceasing support for race parties.
That automatically brings us to the fourth factor: Shuman. Yes, Lenox Shuman. Yes, he is a charismatic Indigenous leader and the Amerindian peoples’ talisman in this election. But, Shuman can get mixed-race votes. In a country so deeply driven by race and its depraved shallowness, Shuman has the look that could capture some segment of the mixed-race vote. He could get the reflexive not wanting to vote for the PPP or APNU protest or disgust mixed vote. He could gain some strategic mixed vote. I am sure Shuman is already capitalising on that. Because his campaign is going to be run in Amerindian-heavy areas, Shuman is going to get mixed-race votes because it so happens that Amerindian-heavy areas tend to have sizeable mixed-race populations.
Most critically, if Shuman holds the balance of power with a few seats in the next election, he would do more for mixed and Amerindians voters with that power than the PPP or APNU ever do with a majority because he would have the power to prevent the kind of runaway ethnic domination that will be unleashed on this country with the vast oil wealth in play if the PPP or APNU wins a majority. So, strategically speaking, mixed voters, who are having doubts about voting for the PPP or APNU, are going to seriously consider Shuman to use their votes as a more formidable weapon and as security against their ethnic marginalisation.
The fifth factor is a big one. The unequivocal trend in the last two censuses show the mixed-race ethnic group is the fastest growing in Guyana. As an aside, I would imagine with the massive influx of foreigners into Guyana since the last census and with many of them from Latin America, once they become naturalised, the mixed-race population count will surge in the next census as most of these individuals will be considered mixed-race. If this fastest growing ethnic group is abandoning the traditional race giants (PPP and APNU) and swinging to upstart parties like Shuman’s JLP, then they will alter the future of this country. It is why Kissoon says the PPP and APNU cannot find a majority. And we know these internal polls are usually skewed to favour the parties. If the internal polls are saying no majority then the reality is going to be even more bitter.
The two fastest growing ethnic groups in mixed and Amerindian voters are likely going to reject the racial nastiness fuelled by the PPP and APNU’s hunger for racial domination. Can this country afford these miscreants in a nation with many ethnic groups seeking a fair share of the pie? A revolution is about to unfold in the ballot boxes. Amerindians are going to swing to Shuman, their hope to lead them to the Promised Land. The mixed-race group has no Shuman-like talisman of their own but Shuman comes closest to their own messiah they seek. Mixed-races are going to vote to get what’s theirs too.