Letters & Opinion, Politics

The Politics And Psychology of Voting

IT was the late Tip O’Neill, former US Speaker of the House, who coined the phrase all politics is local. To the extent that this applies in the Saint Lucian context depends on the number of voters in each constituency who do not have an attachment to any political party. Most supporters make a lifelong commitment to their party hence the statements Laybar till I die, or Flambeau for life.

It does not matter how badly a party damages their national brand, or how ineffective and useless the member of parliament who represents a constituency, or how useless, and or corrupt the government the zealots shall not be moved.

There are a few constituencies in Saint Lucia that can be considered marginal constituencies where the core supporters of each party are not sufficient to tip the balance in the favour of either party.

The remaining voters who can determine the results in these constituencies more often than not use a different barometer other than slogans, gimmicks, or the redness of the red and the deepness of the yellow.

They assess the overall performance of the government vis a vis the important developmental matrices. They make a judgement on the capability of the candidate presented. They make a judgement call on the capability and the quality of the leadership and overall platform of the party that candidate represents. Most importantly they decide how to cast that vote by determining to what extent that their own constituency needs were met among other things.

It is for this reason a party would present the candidate that is more likely to win a particular constituency based on a number of factors not limited to likeability, capability, and community attachment and involvement.

The number of people who vote their personal interest is not insignificant and hence the disgruntled voter who withdraws support based on unfulfilled promises, or the perception that their vote did not yield personal returns. Such a voter, particularly in marginal constituencies, can be a danger to any party. The interest of country does not feature when casting their revenge vote.

This is what makes elections so difficult to predict with any precision and it is precisely for these reasons that political parties pull out all the stops to influence the decisions of marginal voters.

It is much easier to energize the base than it is to excite the apathetic and the hard to impress cerebral or more discerning voter.

The coming elections may seem easier to predict based on the number of aforementioned deciding factors. But one more important deciding factor is money. So the party which is more successful in attracting political capital in the form of deep pockets, we can name them “Juffalies”, will have a definite advantage. By the way Juffalies can be local, regional, or international.

Not only will the parties be able to up the ante with respect to drawing star power for the various campaign rallies but even the hand of the disgruntled can be greased into burying the hatchet.

– T.O. Peter

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