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People's Progressive Party
People’s Progressive Party Civic

Guyana's oldest political party, the People's Progressive Party (PPP), was founded in 1950 by Cheddi Jagan as a means to push for independence. The PPP, led by the government's East Indian Premier, Cheddi Jagan. The PPP derived its strength mainly from East Indians, most of whom live in the countryside. In the August 1961 election, the PPP won about 43 percent of the popular vote, thereby gaining a 20-15 majority in the legislature. Since the elections it demonstrated considerable political ineptitude and failed to make headway against the enormous economic difficulties of the colony.

After the 1961 elections, however, the party came to represent almost exclusively the Indo-Guyanese community. A long-time Marxist- Leninist, Jagan declared in 1969 that the PPP was a communist party and advocated state ownership of all industry. The PPP won elections in 1953, 1957, and 1961, but its leftist policies led to internal unrest and opposition from the British colonial authorities. The PPP had ten National Assembly seats after the 1980 election and in the 1985 elections won eight seats.

Premier Cheddi Jagan and the People's Progressive Party (PPP) represent the East Indians, who are more numerous than the Negroes and who had consolidated politically by the February 1962 disturbances. Jagan and the PPP are likely to maintain control of the government, whether or not new elections are held.

The PPP leadership has a clear record of Communist association and of Communist-line policies, but the evidence does not show whether or to what extent they are under international Communist control. The USA believed, however, that Jagan was a Communist, though the degree of Moscow's control was not clear. A Jagan government in the post-independence period would probably follow a policy of nonalignment in international affairs, but would probably lean in the Soviet direction. Its associations with East and West would be highly opportunistic and strongly influenced by its interest in obtaining aid for British Guiana. Its domestic program would be radically socialist and reformist.

In 1992, the PPP/Civic won the General elections but although international observers and others proclaimed the 1992 general elections as "free and fair", a minority of the electorate remained doubtful and Georgetown witnessed a number of demonstrations. For the 1992 elections the PPP, in an attempt to broaden its appeal to non-Indo Guyanese electors and to demonstrate a break with its own political past, allied itself with a group of people from the business community and civil society under the title People's Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/Civic). From time to time, a number of small parties have risen to challenge one or the other of the larger parties'. However, few have in the past succeeded in winning substantial support. Consequently, even by 1997, almost 96% of the electorate voted for either the PPP/C or the PNC.

The 1997 general elections, which the PPP/Civic again won, also ended in allegations of irregularities and electoral malpractice which sparked off numerous demonstrations which degenerated into violence and civil disturbance. In the wake of the violence on the streets of Georgetown, CARICOM dispatched a Goodwill Mission to Guyana in January 1998. On January 17, 1998, the CARICOM Mission brokered an agreement between the PPP/C and the PNC through the signing of the Herdmanston Accord by President Janet Jagan and Leader of the PNC, Mr. Desmond Hoyte which brought peace to the country. By this accord, the parties committed themselves to political dialogue, an external audit of the election results and constitutional reform. The purpose of the accord was to reduce conflict and bring about a level of normality. As a consequence the PPP/C government agreed to prematurely end its term in office on January 17, 2001.

In April 2006, the Minister of Agriculture, Satyadeow Sawh, members of his family and a security guard were murdered in an armed attack on the Minister's home. The day after the killings, a news release issued by the ruling People's Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) indicated that the minister was "a long standing member and faithful activist" of the PPP/C. The Caribbean Guyana Institute for Democracy (CGID) alleges that the murders were premeditated (CGID 23 Apr. 2006). According to the Latin American Caribbean and Central American Report, the police indicated after their investigation that the assailants had tried to eliminate any witnesses to the attack and that the robbery served as a cover for the attack.

In the 28 August 2006 election, PPP was trying very hard to present a very unified campaign face, but divisions lurked beneath the surface. Jagdeo and the party were not on the same page. Jagdeo enjoyed greater support outside the party than he did among the old guard of the PPP inner circle. That said, the PPP Executive Committee realizes that Jagdeo is the best shot they had at winning an outright majority. The PPP was scrambling until just before Nomination Day to assemble its list of candidates. The PPP was split between the idealistic Communist wing of the party (who, ironically, were fairly well-disposed to the U.S.) and the opportunists who entangled the party/government into dealing with narco-criminal Roger Khan.

This was the first Guyanese election in over fifty years that had not featured Janet Jagan as a prominent member of the PPP slate. Even at 85 years old Janet Jagan remained the matriarch of the PPP, although her role will decline rapidly as her health continued to decline. She still appears in public at party events and wrote a column in the PPP organ "Weekly Mirror". Tellingly, Jagdeo apologized to Ambassador Bullen 11 July 2006 for Jagan's vitriolic column that described the "stench of rendition" in relation to Khan's expulsion. Jagdeo took pains to make clear that Jagan does not speak on behalf of the Goovernment.

The PPP did not mind some pre-election violence, as that propped up their cynical pitch to Indo-Guyanese that they must vote PPP or else suffer at the hands of Afro-Guyanese criminals.

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Page last modified: 14-05-2017 18:32:55 ZULU