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Peter Espeut | From whence shall come our hope?

You could see it coming. Only 59 per cent of registered voters turned out in 1944; the optimism at Independence brought out 73 per cent in 1962. Things were not all that great for the majority, and the socialist promise of “Better mus’ come” brought out 85 per cent in 1976; better did not come, and 87 per cent voted out the People’s National Party (PNP) in 1980. Things have gone downhill since

You could see it coming. Only 59 per cent of registered voters turned out in 1944; the optimism at Independence brought out 73 per cent in 1962. Things were not all that great for the majority, and the socialist promise of “Better mus’ come” brought out 85 per cent in 1976; better did not come, and 87 per cent voted out the People’s National Party (PNP) in 1980. Things have gone downhill since.

The election boycott by the PNP brought out less than three per cent of registered voters in 1983, and also brought an end to the see-saw two-term syndrome; the PNP beat the unelectable Seaga-led Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) four times straight, each time with fewer voters turning out. A blip of a 61 per cent turnout brought back the JLP in 2007, the last time a winning party gained more than 30 per cent of registered voters. The turnout at the last election (2020) was 38 per cent, with the present government winning the support of only 21 per cent of the electorate.

Recent opinion poll results show support for both parties falling even lower. Can we call a situation where more than 60 per cent stay away from elections a democracy? When a party wins with less than 20 per cent of the registered voters, does it form a government by the people, of the people, and for the people? At what point will the Jamaican people become ungovernable? With our extraordinarily high murder rate, and widespread disobedience of our COVID-19 and traffic regulations, has this already happened?

NOT HEALTHY This is not a healthy political situation, and nothing on the horizon suggests an improvement any time soon. Each successive government outdoes its predecessor in (discovered) corruption scandals; who knows how many more remain undiscovered?

The political system both our major political parties have created is one in which they take turns dividing the scarce benefits and spoils among their dwindling cadre of supporters. Both major parties collude to make political corruption harder to detect and even harder to prosecute.

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