Low Confidence in Gecom & Enthusiasm in LGE

first_imgDear Editor,The ongoing tracking poll being conducted by the North American Caribbean Teachers Association (NACTA) finds widespread dissatisfaction with and declining popularity of the coalition (APNU+AFC) government. There is very low voter enthusiasm among traditional government supporters for this Monday’s local government elections (LGE) and little confidence in GECOM and its Chairman.People are uninterested in the elections, and more concerned about their belly (bread and butter issues) and safety. Voter apathy is greater in the urban areas, with more rank-and-file enthusiasm in rural areas like in the sugar belt that has been hit hard with estate closures.Respondents complain that local government elections are meaningless when too many people can’t make ends meet and are perennially worried they might become victims of criminals at virtually any place; almost everyone is concerned about out-of-control crime. Poverty is also growing.The declining popularity of the coalition government is attributed primarily to the sagging economy, perceived widespread corruption, poor governance, mismanagement, increased unemployment, rising crime, and broken promises, among other reasons.People complain that Government has failed to deliver on promised constitutional reforms to empower local governments (and their elected representatives), leaving them ineffective and powerless to service their constituents. The voters, as well as candidates seeking elective office from both sides of the aisle, say local governments should be vested with powers and resources to manage their own affairs. They also want a system in which they can exercise oversight over the all-powerful national government and arrogant officials who have outgrown their breeches.The survey finds that the opposition PPP is projected to sweep the elections, winning a huge majority of the eighty local organs (71 NDCs and 9 municipalities). The ruling APNU (PNC) and AFC are expected to suffer significant losses even in what are considered to be their traditional strongholds including in recently gerrymandered NDCs and constituencies (seats).It appears AFC is “rotten meat”, as voters are not attracted to its meetings or expressing support for it; APNU is doing better, especially in its strongholds. Still, it would take a lot of ground work to change angry minds to vote for APNU or AFC. Meanwhile, the PPP has been coasting, even making gains in support in some government held NDCs; its leader, Bharrat Jagdeo is enormously popular everywhere, energizing the base. The opposition URP is also making some showing.However, people expressed concerns about the fairness of the elections. Asked if they think, the local government elections will be free and fair, 39% said yes; 53% said no. The findings reveal 57% feel that the government has changed the boundaries (of NDCs and first past the post constituencies or seats) for political advantage; 34% don’t think so.Fifty-nine per cent think government has been abusing state resources for electioneering as opposed to 32% who don’t think so. And a large 84% wants central government (6% oppose) to grant more autonomy to local government to manage their own affairs.There is limited confidence in James Patterson as GECOM Chair. A large 63% do not approve of President David Granger’s appointment of James Patterson as GECOM Chair (as opposed to 21% who do). Asked if they support the appeal court’s ruling on the appointment of Patterson, 24% support it in contrast to 64% who disapprove of it. Some 69% do not agree with GECOM Chairman’s position to refuse United Nations help on elections, with only 11% backing him and 20% not offering an opinion.Asked if foreign observers should have been invited for LGE, 71% said yes with 15% saying no with 14% unsure. When asked if they will vote, some 60% said no. On the subject of which party they will vote for, PPP gets the nod from over 60% and is projected to win a lopsided majority of seats. Surprisingly, many voters are unaware that they can’t vote because candidates in their NDCs won unopposed.People everywhere complain about conditions in the country and if given an opportunity, over 90% say they would migrate to America even with the oil earnings coming on stream in a year.The poll also queried voters on social issues. The findings will be released in a subsequent report.Yours truly,Vishnu Bisramlast_img read more