Published by Economist Intelligence Unit
The president, Donald Ramotar, has announced general elections for May 11th, exactly six months after suspending the country's parliament in order to avoid a no-confidence motion against him.
In November Mr Ramotar "prorogued" the country's parliament, meaning that it was suspended but not dissolved. The constitutional measure was invoked in order to block a no-confidence motion by the opposition, which holds a small majority in the country's 65-member National Assembly.
Due to the opposition's legislative majority, Mr Ramotar and his Indo-Guyanese-dominated People's Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) have been unable to implement any substantive policies since Mr Ramotar came to power in 2011. The president has proven less popular than his predecessor, Bharrat Jagdeo (1999-2011), partly due to his inability to enact major policies but also owing to a lack of charisma. He is seen as a party apparatchik--as opposed to a serious president--by many Guyanese. Yet, given that politics in Guyana is very delineated by race, especially in the country's interior, there is a chance that scandals and personalities will be ignored by many who will continue to vote based on racial allegiances, in which case the PPP/C is likely to remain in power owing to the larger Indo-Guyanese population.
However, racially based divisions are slowly easing among younger, more metropolitan Guyanese, as seen with the rise of the Alliance for Change (AFC), which won seven seats in the National Assembly in 2011 elections. The AFC is keen to bridge the racial divide and has had some success in unsettling the long-standing, racially divided two-party system. The main opposition coalition, the Afro-Guyanese-dominated A Partnership for National Unity (APNU), and the AFC remain in talks to form a pro-democracy coalition to contest the election against the PPP/C in May. The broad appeal of such a coalition cannot be underestimated and, if secured, would greatly boost the APNU's chances of winning the presidency.
Impact on the forecast
Rising political uncertainty may lead to heightened economic instability. However, we have made no changes to our economic forecasts at this time. Our expectation that the ruling PPP/C will retain power remains unchanged.