Threats to democracy
The following are excerpts from local newspapers: “The local government elections have marked a return to tribal politics”; “(some) warned supporters against splitting the vote and thus avoid affecting the outcome”; and a “campaign theme was to encourage supporters to come back home” .
These very troubling declarations should be the concern of all right-thinking citizens. They have left me confused, troubled and uncertain as to their real meaning and intent.
What does “come back home” mean with respect to the exercise of one’s vote? In this multi-racial, multi-religious and multi-ethnic society, how would one explain to a teenage voter the call “don’t split the vote”? Would you be able to teach him he is at liberty to vote in accord with his conscience?
Don’t citizens enjoy the constitutional right of being able to vote as they choose? Are we not empowered to exercise our voting franchise as we please? Can we not vote for different parties on the basis of one’s personal assessment without being accused of voting to satisfy tribal, ethnic or racial considerations? Yes? Why then are citizens been harangued with such rants as “come back home” and “don’t split the vote”? What is the intent of such appeals? One would hate to think it is to encourage the casting of one’s vote along racial lines!
If Guyana’s model of proportional representation were to be introduced in this country, wouldn’t calls such as “come back home” or “don’t split the vote” institutionalise the practice of voting according to racial considerations?
Bearing in mind the continuing desperate calls for constitutional reform with the inclusion of proportional electoral representation, are we deliberately laying the groundwork for the introduction of such a divisive political culture?