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The vanishing voters

Trinidad Express / CITIZENS are fed up with the politics and it was reflected in the historic low voter turn-out on Monday.

Political analysts Dr Winford James and Indera Sagewan-Alli both said the electorate was very disappointed with their parties mainly the Peoples National Movement (PNM) and the United National Congress (UNC) and did not bother to show their support by showing up at polling stations to cast their ballots.

The preliminary estimate is that less than 23 per cent of the more than a million eligible voters cast their ballots.

James said while a low voter turn-out was expected, he thought it might have been lower than usual.

He told the Express on Tuesday: “The parties has been sustained by their bases more or less, this country has a voting base that is race based. What we have had is a maintenance of that state of affairs and lots of people did not vote including some of the people in the two bases. They did not vote because they were not impressed, persuaded by what either major party has been doing since the last general election.”

He said: “The Government has been slow to get off the mark toward development and the result is that so many people are disappointed, discouraged by what they have had to experience that they did not think they should go out to support the ruling party. Of course those on the Opposition side are not particular impressed with the kind of opposition that they have been having. I think some of them are persuaded that they messed up the economy before they lost the election but there the people who are the loyalists in the base who would continue to vote for their party.”

James added that although the PNM won the majority of Corporations, the PNM was anticipating a better result.  He said the PNM need more votes in order to remain in Government, while the Opposition also needs more to return to Government.

And Indera Sagewan-Alli said: “I think people feel a significant disconnect from the politics, from the country’s leadership.  I think people feel as if it really does not matter which of the two parties that they put in office.  It doesn’t really impact their lives in any significant way, they simply have to get up and do what they have to do. People don’t feel part of the process, they don’t feel empowered by the process, they don’t feel engaged by the process, they don’t feel that the process is going to be dealt with their benefit in it.”

She continued: “It is sad that the leaders on both sides sought to simply find ways to spin this reality into win for themselves rather than to publicly recognise a concern that so many people chose to stay away.”

Sagewan-Alli said that for both the PNM and the UNC, there was no growth.

“ In fact, what we have seen is significant contraction because even in some core areas that the number of people who voted is so insignificant  that even  amongst the core supporters of the political parties that people are not encouraged to support their parties,” she said.

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