Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Stella Says…The swing vote could decide this year's election

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 8 August 2006)

The last few days have been full of rallies and political manoeuvrings as the PPP/C and the PNCR/1G attempts to bolster the trust of their long-time supporters. To accomplish this task, they have been employing the typical methods that have worked for decades now.

Each party has been highlighting the depravity and wantonness of the other party to their supporters. This is politics as usual. Except there is a major factor that plays a part in this political manipulation in Guyana that is not generally found in other political races throughout the world – that is the race factor.

This issue is exploited for the sake of politics – just like it has been for decades in Guyana. The PPP/C tells its supporters how bad it will be if the PNCR/1G gets the majority vote and vice versa. It is a sad and disgusting ploy, but if it gets the "right" candidate elected, no one really seems to care.

The truth of the matter is that neither of these parties has accomplished anything notable for the country. If the opposing party wants to find depravity in their rival party, they certainly do not have to dig too far. Still yet, both of these parties have their own share of buried secrets hidden in a closet far from the public eye.

As the general elections creep up on us quickly, the political rhetoric will amplify and the supporters will be wooed by love for their representatives or by hate for the other party. However, there is still one more factor that seems to be going unnoticed by both of the dinosaur parties.

The swing vote is a vital aspect of almost every election worldwide. In Guyana, this portion of the population has been so minute in the past that it has not received the attention it would have garnered in almost any other democracy. But make no mistake about it, this year the swing vote could mean the difference between a win and a loss.

The swing vote population consist of the voters who do not pledge their loyalty to any one party. This voter cast his/her vote based on the performance of the last incumbent and the likelihood of a better performance from another party.

In Guyana, this is very rare since it would mean that the swing voter would not listen to the political rhetoric of the mainstays or vote by race. This year, there is a very healthy portion of the nation's population that fits into the swing vote group, which is quite possibly the best thing that could have ever happened for Guyana.

I would venture to guess that most swing voters plan cast their ballot for the AFC this year. Perhaps this is the reason the dinosaur parties are ignoring this demographic again. Or it could be because they would not know how to answer the questions of corruption and ineptitude this group will undoubtedly put forth.

However, by not courting the swing vote, both parties put themselves in a very precarious position. Although everyone is predicting a slight win for the PPP/C – giving it the presidency, but not Parliament – it is clear that anything can happen in the next few weeks that could upset this prediction. This year's election is not in the bag for any party.

Moreover, there is the question of how the voters who are of mixed race will vote this year. This demographic makes up a substantially larger group than at time in the past. A sizeable portion of this group will no doubt consider themselves to be a swing voter as well and it will be interesting to see which party gets their votes.

Meanwhile, whilst the dinosaur parties continue to use their tired methods of creating support, there is an entire portion of the population waiting for something better, something fresh. And they do indeed deserve something better.

Email: StellaSays[at]gmail.com

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