Government & oppositionElections marathon [Archives:2003/627/Business & Economy]

March 17 2003

There are numbered days to go before the beginning of electoral campaigns for the parliamentary elections scheduled to be held in several weeks. Political parties, both in power and opposition, are competing, particularly with regard to the economic situation, the voters' living standard, treatment by government of implemented structural failures since 1995, as well as Yemen's opposition vision concerning the economic crisis, which the opposition ascribe to a package of economic reforms the government has been implementing.
While the government, led by the general people's congress party, confirms it has been able, during the past seven years, to curb inflation and keep stability of exchange rate of the national currency, opposition parties say the policy of economic reform has led to an increase in poverty proportion by around 28 percent, and rates of prices by over 187 percent. The parties say the increase-included electricity, water and telephone bill by 53, 15 and 32 percent respectively. Political parties' election forums are distributed according to these two opposing visions over several orientations. Mast important of these directions are:

1- Program of the GPC ruling party which enumerates achievements of its government, covering infrastructure, accomplishments of social security net, and educational, health, vocational and technical training, in addition to other services,
2- Programs of the 6 member Joint Meeting Parties as being meeting at one vision, i.e., that the official policy of economic reforms has led to aggravation of problems in social life with increased poverty rates and rise of unemployment by 35 percent of work force.

Election programs of opposition parties are unanimous that social services, like health, education, water and electricity have retreated and their prices shot up. The program stress that in the health area, people have only services without medication offered by nominal hospitals. In the political context of the elections scheduled on 27 April, the 6-member opposition parties have demanded, in a memorandum to the National Alignment Committee, for halting the program of economic reform and creating other alternatives to deal with the crisis. The memo also called for critical revision of all attempts for economic, administrative and financial reform. The memorandum also emphasized the necessity of treating the economic crisis in a scientific objective way depending on understanding reality, addressing the causes, fighting corruption and its sources and passing a law on financial accountability.
These demands seem to be part of the propaganda campaign accompanying the elections directed against the ruling party. They are difficult to realize demands, if not impossible, especially regarding the issue of financial accountability, because there is confusion between jobs and commercial businesses. Therefore, the opposition parties, by this vision, are aimed at politically winning the voters who feel tangible bitterness and deterioration of living conditions.
Between these two parties of the government which boasts of accomplishments of the ruling party, and of the opposition that accuses the government of dereliction and deterioration of economy, there is a third party's programs enter the race. The third party's programs are characterized by ambiguity because they criticize the governments reforms policy in certain areas and support them in others.
This third party represents a group of programs adopted by small political parties, some are independent and the other some works under an alliance called the National Grouping of opposition, consisting of five parties.
The voters are to be the judge between the elections race rivals, in addition to a fourth group whose programs are be represented by the independent. The programs of these independents would derive from their local constituencies' woes. The question of who would win the race would be answered by the voters themselves.