In the 1961 elections 218,357 persons voted. The PPP obtained 93,085 votes (42.63%) and 20 seats, the PNC 89,501 (40.99%) and 11 seats and the UF 35,771 (16.38%) and 4 seats. As a result of a successful election petition against the results in the Houston constituency, in which 7,389 persons voted, the High Court found that fraud took place. Criminal charges heard later in the Magistrates’ Court arising from the allegations of fraud were dismissed. These two conflicting decisions in different courts faced the Governor who was responsible for the elections under Article 80 of the 1961 constitution. For whatever reason he did not exercise his authority to call a by-election for Houston. Had a by-election been held, whatever the results, it would not have affected the overall results of the PPP being the winner.
After accusations of election rigging emerged against the PNC from 1968, the PNC retorted that it was the PPP that originated election rigging by failing to hold by-elections for Houston, disregarding the fact that it was the Governor’s responsibility. The lack of equivalency whereby the PNC is accused of stealing the entire government and country for a quarter of a century and indirectly depriving the Indian Guyanese community of the right to vote, while Houston relates to one of 35 constituencies which would not have affected the overall election results, is never acknowledged.
In the era of rigging, even when the economy tanked after 1973, and poverty took Guyana down the tubes to the level of Haiti, the PNC’s share of the votes showed uncharacteristic upward surges which have been proved to have occurred by rigging. In 1968 the PNC’s votes rose to 55.81% from 40.99% in 1961 and 40.51% in 1964. The PNC’s votes rose in 1973 to 70.10%, in 1980 to 77.66% and in 1985 to 78.54%. These election results have been approbated by every PNC spokesperson who has ever commented on the election results of that era.
The election results by percentage in the current era for the PNC and PPP are as follows: in 1992 PNC 42.31%, PPP 53.45%; in 1997 PNC 40.55%, PPP 55.26%; in 2001 PNC 41.83%, PPP 52.96%; in 2006 PNC 34.07%, AFC 8.43%, making a total of 42.50%. It is believed that some PNC voters supported the AFC because of dissatisfaction with the new leadership of the PNC. In 2011 PNC 40.81%, PPP 48.8%, AFC 10.32%. It is believed that after a change in leadership in the PNC, its voters substantially returned but that those who remained with the AFC together with a significant crossover of votes from the PPP gave the AFC its figure of 10.32%. As stated above, in 2015 the APNU+AFC alliance obtained 50.30%, the PPP 49.19%. The APNU+AFC results are accounted for by the PNC’s approximate 40% and the AFC’s approximate 10%. In 2020 the APNU+AFC coalition obtained 47.34% and the PPP obtained 50.69% thereby demonstrating that the PPP recovered enough of the support it had lost to give it a bare majority. Nothing strange in that. The PNC recovered in 2011 from its drop in votes in 2006.
The consistency in voting patterns in Guyana is explained by the widely acknowledged and proven ethnic voting patterns. While for sixty years from 1961, in all free and fair elections, the percentage of votes obtained by the PNC has remained stable and consistent except for the years of 2006, 2015 and 2020, the reasons for which have been explained, the PPP’s votes have also remained largely stable, except that while the PPP’s percentages in the elections of 1961 and 1964 were in the 40s (in 1961 it was 42.63% and in 1964 it was 45.84%), it rose to the 50s in the 1992 elections and after except for 2011 and 2015. The reason for the increase, as is widely acknowledged, is the transition of a large body of Amerindian support from the United Force up to 1964 to the PPP by 1992. The PPP lost some support in 2011 (to 48%) and 2015 (to 49%) which went to the AFC. Its long incumbency and the attendant negative consequences were responsible.
The assessment of the above figures combined with a basic understanding of Guyana’s political landscape should lead any rational person to conclude that the election results since 1992 shows a pattern that is consistent with free and fair elections taking into account two factors, namely, ethno/political voting patterns and the limited vicissitudes of changing political fortunes of the large political parties. Therefore, the contention that the PPP, out of office in 2020, and with no influence over the elections’ machinery, as the events have shown, rigged the elections in such a way that thousands of dead and migrated people voted, is a fantasy so absurd as to defy comprehension.
The allegation is that ‘thousands’ voted illegally has to mean that the PPP’s real results dipped significantly below 50% while the APNU+AFC was substantially higher than 47%. The unwavering certitude of ethnic voting since 1961 cannot conceivably accommodate such swings in voting patterns in Guyana, which has never occurred. But experience has shown that rationality is easily distorted by ethnicity.