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Opposition unifies ahead of May election
Feb. 16, 2015 — Caracas, Venezuela

Published by Economist Intelligence Unit

Event

The two main opposition parties, A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) and the Alliance for Change (AFC), announced on February 14th that they will unite to unseat the ruling People's Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) and the president, Donald Ramotar, at the May 11th general election.

Analysis

Guyana has been facing a constitutional crisis since November, when Parliament was prorogued (meaning that it was suspended, but not dissolved) by Mr Ramotar to stave off a vote on a motion of no confidence brought against him by the opposition, which holds a majority in the National Assembly. The motion was brought forward by Moses Nagamootoo of the AFC, a political party formed in 2005 with the aim of bridging the country's significant ethnic divide, and backed by the much larger and more dominant APNU. After weeks of negotiations, the two parties on February 14th formalised a pre-electoral alliance with the signing of the "Cummingsburg Accord".

Under the accord, the head of APNU, David Granger, will be the alliance's presidential candidate while Mr Nagamootoo will be his prime ministerial running mate. In exchange for the AFC's support, APNU agreed to several key concessions, including the reorganisation of the presidency to delegate more responsibilities to the prime minister. Under an alliance government, the prime minister would chair cabinet meetings, recommend ministerial appointments for the approval of the president, appoint heads of agencies and non-constitutional commissions, and be responsible for domestic affairs and domestic security. The accord also caters for a 60/40 cabinet split, favouring APNU; the AFC is guaranteed two vice-presidencies.

With the signing of the accord, the likelihood of the opposition alliance unseating the PPP/C has risen. However, for decades voting patterns have followed racial lines in Guyana—with Indo-Guyanese predominantly supporting the PPP/C and Afro-Guyanese voting for the parties that comprise APNU—and this will work against the opposition in May. With the PPP/C's popularity slumping in the wake of the president's decision to prorogue parliament, the opposition will be hoping to capitalise on voters' frustrations on May 11th.

Impact on the forecast

The opposition coalition will present a major challenge to the PPP/C government in the upcoming election. However, we maintain our central forecast that the ruling party will remain in power, although recognise increasing downside risks to this scenario.

Filed from
Caracas, Venezuela






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© Girish Gupta