Tony Vieira's Comments
22 October 2017


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The Third Force
(Aired 15 February 2006)

     Almost three years ago I suggested that like the Americans we Guyanese must adjust our voting so that the executive should never control the parliament or the judiciary, I made this suggestion since as the father of the US democracy James Madison visualised it, the three branches of Government should at all times be separated but in this country they are not! And to move forward we have to change that.

    Under our present constitutional system which is a hodge podge based on the British Westminster system and Burnham's 1980 constitution in which the position of Prime Minister was replaced by an executive President with enormous powers far above what any Prime Minister anywhere enjoys, even the constitutional reform process has failed to reduce those powers to a reasonable level, any party winning 51% in any election ends up with a virtual dictatorship, since the three branches of Government the Judicial, the legislative and the Executive will be controlled by one person, the President!

   Baker and Lewis the two British Judges invited here by then Chief Justice Desiree Bernard to examine our legal system mention the numerous complaints they received about the politicisation of our judges, they of course did not look into it since it was not within the purview of their mandate; Sir Michael Davies brought here by the British Commonwealth to examine our parliamentary system said it clearly, the Parliament does what the executive tells it to do. Without these separations of powers there can be no democracy and so as I have said before we have these contentious and more often violent elections every 5 years to decide who the dictator will be for the next 5 years.

   So I had suggested that we should vote in a manner which can restrict the executive from having these enormous powers, which means that whoever wins the elections should not control all of the seats in the Parliament.

    Some people feel that such a situation can lead to deadlock, but I feel that it can lead to consultation, compromise and cooperation three C's which are completely lacking in our winner take all system now, and which has led to disaster since it is probably the main reason we are in the ridiculous Socio/economic situation we find ourselves in today in this country.

     I don't see why for example if I tell you that the PPP are doing a very poor job of managing our affairs, some of you take that to mean that I don't like Indian people, that happens not because of me, that happens because they have been programmed to think that way, that the PPP means Indian and that if you attack the PPP you attack Indians, nothing can be further from the truth. Over and over I have said that the PNC have not proved to be a competent opposition just as I have said that the PPP have proved to be a failure in Government.

    Frankly according to polls that I have seen private ones as well as public ones, if we had and election tomorrow the most optimistic estimate is that the PPP will only receive 42% of the vote and whilst this is enough for winning the executive it would not be enough to win control of Parliament. If this is accurate and I have no doubt that it is and it holds until election time i.e. if you the voters keep your current mindset until the 2006 elections then we can have the biggest advance in our political history as a nation. We will effectively put a check and balance into the excesses of whoever is in power.

    From the time of independence this has been mainly a two party country the PPP and the PNC the Indo Guyanese and the Afro Guyanese parties, there was a time when we had a functioning middle class and the United Force made the third force but it is my opinion that D'Aguair made an error by joining Forbes Burnham's government in a formal collation. I can venture a guess as to why, but one by one his MP's became to all intents and purposes PNC MP's and D'Aguair lost control of his own people we must never allow this to happen again. It is important and we must remember it at all times.

    Now we come to the third force I have seen people sitting in talk shows for hours telling us what the third force is, well you don't need an hour to tell the story, it is really very simple, the PPP [the ruling party now] is the first force, the PNC is the second force, the first and second forces have been at each other's throats since independence to the detriment of the nation, so we have to put something in place which holds the balance of power in the parliament, which is neither PNC or PPP to force the first and second forces to work together in harmony, which can move the country forward. 

  Even if the third force wins the majority of votes in an election it can never join either the first or the second forces since in doing so it can and will lose its identity. But it must be prepared to work with both the first and second forces since the PPP and the PNC will not just disappear overnight, there will have to be meaningful dialog between them or there will never be progress, so this third force must have as a hallmark of its identity a guarantee that it is not for or against any race, it must be an all race party of Guyanese not indo or afro, just Guyanese at last.

    That is the way forward, many of you have known it all along but finally the others are beginning to awake to the inevitable the more they see the PPP in inaction in Government and the PNC in inaction as the opposition!

   Now we come to the area of confusion, which is why members of the public have asked me to do this commentary the third force is any political Party or Movement which is neither PPP or PNC so the third force can comprise as many as 6-9 parties UNITY, WPA, GAP, AFC, ROAR, JUSTICE FOR ALL, all these parties are third force parties whether they know it or not, since if they are not in the third force they are either PPP or PNC. See how simple this is?

    Around September last year 5 TF parties began to meet to decide how they will pool their resources to contest the 2006 elections, unfortunately they were led to believe that they would be more effective if they became a formal alliance or platform as one party or movement with one leader selected from among them as the presidential candidate, i.e. the Third Force Party, somehow or the other something called the Vision group appeared in the middle of all this which added to the confusion, some parties from the beginning were not prepared to subsume their positions as leaders of their individual parties to this platform, some parties felt that they had more support i.e. more shares in the political pie and that joining with weaker parties would not be an equitable division, some Parties had more resources than others so forming alliances and pooling these inequitable resources in a collation of equals would not be reasonable or possible, since the popular parties in the mix supported by their niche constituency in the political arena would end up with some very dissatisfied supporters if they gave up their leadership positions.

    I think that the third force platform idea is more or less dead now, but that does not  mean that they cannot support each other in a more informal alliance maintaining their own identities thereby removing the areas of conflict and campaign as third force parties supporting and helping each other against the first and second forces and that is what I think they will decide to do, if closer to the elections there emerges a clear leader in this third force which all can agree on, and there are clear indications through polling etc. that joining forces can actually win the election then perhaps it would be the right time to collate formally, but doing it now would be like betting on your hand in a poker game before you actually got your cards, put that way it sounds ridiculous doesn't it? but that is exactly what they were trying to do, so this perception by the public that the third force concept is disintegrating and dying is a fallacy, the third force is very much alive, the third force platform i.e. a formal alliance with one leader is not going to happen now, that is true, but the parties can and will, I think, sit down and discuss a more loose arrangement supporting each other in the 2006 campaign instead of fighting among themselves leaving a trail of blood from back stabbing one another to the election later this year, that ought to make the first and second forces very happy indeed.