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The 21st Century Voters in Jamaica

Author(s): Paul A. Bourne

Journal: Current Research Journal of Social Science
ISSN 2041-3238

Volume: 2;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 114;
Date: 2010;
Original page

Keywords: Voting behaviour | Voters | Governance | Jamaica

This study seeks to update the knowledge reservoir on contemporary Jamaican voters. One of thepillows upon which ‘good’ democracy is built is one’s right to change governments through the autonomousprocess of voting. Voting behaviour of Jamaicans dates back to 1944. After 1944 to 1971, voting behaviourwas analyzed by way of the electoral data. Carl Stone, on the other hand, has shown that opinion survey canbe effectively used to predict an election by way of knowing the profile of the electorates. Since Stone’s studyin 1993 no one has sought to update and evaluate the voting behaviour of Jamaicans. This study utilizes datataken from two surveys that were administered by the Centre of Leadership and Governance (CLG), Universityof the W est Indies, Mona, Jamaica, in July to August 2006 and May 2007. For each survey, the sample wasselected using a multistage sampling approach of the fourteen parishes of Jamaica. Each parish was called acluster, and each cluster was further classified into urban and rural zones, male and female, and social class.The final sample was then randomly selected from the clusters. The first survey saw a sample of 1,338respondents, the second survey, 1,438 respondents. Descriptive statistics would be used to analyze the data.The current survey indicates that PNP still retains a 3 percent lead (36.2% PNP to 33.2% JLP) among eligiblevoters. However, a substantial narrowing has occurred since August 2006, when the comparable figures were53% PNP and 23.1% JLP. This represents a 10% net increase for JLP, and a 17% decrease for PNP.Furthermore, from the May 2007 survey, 41% of the males identified with PNP and 42% with JLP, whereasfor females 42% identified with PNP and only about 35% with JLP--a substantial gender difference in partypreference. Women also are less satisfied with the two-party system generally, with 22% opting for “somethingelse”, as compared with 17% among males. Voting behaviour is not, and while people who are ‘undying’supporters for a party may continue to voting one way (or decides not to vote); the vast majority of the votingpopulace are more sympathizers as against being fanatics. Generally, people vote base on (i) charismaticleadership; (ii) socialization - earlier traditions; (iii) perception of direct benefits (or disbenefits); (iv) associatesand class affiliation; (v) gender differences, and that there is a shift-taking place in Jamaican landscape.Increasingly more Jamaicans are becoming meticulous and are moving away from the stereotypical uncriticaland less responsive to chicanery. Education through the formal institutions and media are playing a pivotalfunction in fostering a critical mind in the public.
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