The presence of the opposition is needed
The People’s Progressive Party seems heading to Parliament. In fact, its General Secretary has so confirmed but the actual date of entry is a closely guarded secret although there is the belief that the party is going to enter parliament on July 30, 2015. The absence of the party from the National Assembly was supposed to signal that party’s disapproval with the result of the May 11, 2015 elections that brought an end to the 23-year reign of the government. Of course the margin of victory was very close—less than one per cent and a mere 4,500 votes. The shock of such a defeat is bound to have an impact on any political party and it did have such an impact on the PPP. It saw the party nearly ripping itself apart, trying to apportion blame for the defeat at the polls. The most high profile casualty has been former President Donald Ramotar. There were recriminations. Some blamed former President Bharrat Jagdeo for the loss. He was blamed for the party losing its majority after the 2011 elections. Some blamed the loss altogether on his involvement in the PPP election campaign. But there were those who found Ramotar an unattractive leader who failed to inspire the voters. Whatever the case, the party now appears to be on the rebound and one can expect that the government is not going to find it easy going. As became the norm when the People’s National Congress was voted out of office the press conference became the forum through which the party could make its voice heard. The party newspaper is no longer the sought after medium as it once was in the days gone by. There are too many media houses, each competing for the news so political parties have more than a willing outlet. And the PPP is already making maximum use of these outlets. From the available evidence, like any good opposition, the PPP is targeting every move that the government makes, right down to simple details of the ministers. Already, the PPP is accusing the government of not knowing what it is about. With each passing day its contention seems to be gaining credibility. Given the brouhaha from the coalition when it was in opposition about the extent of corruption one would have expected arrests and prosecutions now, two months after the government acceded to office. There has been none. Of course, it has been plain sailing when the government proposed and passed the anti-money laundering legislation. This was a piece of legislation that the previous government tried and failed to pass. The fact that there was no opposition in parliament might have denied the public a chance to see the suspected defects in the legislation. Other laws were passed and again the public, because of the absence of the opposition the public is none the wiser about the possible flaws or objections. The upshot is that in the absence of an opposition the parliamentary democracy becomes a farce. For this reason, there is the race for the leadership of a country. When that is achieved there is the similar desperate drive for an opposition. There is to be the presentation of a national budget within weeks. The budget is always a contentious issue. It is about a government seeking to spend to its maximum in an unchallenged manner. The parliamentary opposition in the last parliament opposed numerous aspects of the budget. This did not stall spending because the government had other sources of funding. That cannot be the case today. To find hidden sources of spending is to be doing exactly what the predecessors did. This is where the debate lies; this is where one is going to appreciate or curse the change in government. And above all, this is where the voice of the entire country would be heard.