In a survey conducted in December by the North American Caribbean Teachers Association (NACTA), the nation unanimously endorse the recent statement of the US Embassy (government) calling for a peaceful, free, and fair election. Voters urge Gecom to take all measures to ensure an incident free and transparent election and to invite international observers to guarantee same. The nation lacks confidence in the fairness of the upcoming elections and the ability of Claudette Singh, Chair of Gecom, to deliver on credible elections. A majority of respondents feels it will not be free and fair, but everyone wants a free and fair election and non-violent atmosphere to ensure same. In the same poll, voters also express the belief that Guyana does not have a fair contract signed with the oil companies with a significant number of voters saying ‘oil’ (ranked number three among issues) will influence how they vote on March 2. Ethnicity continue to be the prime determinant of voting behavior. Voters are polarized along ethnic lines with some 90% voting for the two dominant traditional parties.
The poll was conducted by Dr. Vishnu Bisram who has been involved in field surveys and opinion polling in Guyana and other parts of the Caribbean since the 1980s. The latest poll interviewed 650 likely voters at random to represent the demographics of the population (39 Indians, 30% Africans, 20% Mixed, 10% Amerindians, and 1% other ethnic categories). The findings have a margin of error of 4% at a confidence level of 95%.
Based on the findings of the survey, everyone expressed concerns about crime and public security. Large majorities also are worried about the state of the economy (growing unemployment), rising corruption, poor governance, free and fair elections, state of health care, nascent oil industry, race relations (racism), among other issues. All of these will help shape voter choice come voting day. Respondents also mentioned that the party leaders “Jagdeo” and “Granger” of PPP and coalition respectively will influence how they vote with the former having greater influence among voters than the latter. Jagdeo has a very strong hold on the followers of the opposition PPP and among some traditional supporters of the PNC.
Asked if they think the election will be free and fair, 58% said no with 37% saying yes and the others not offering an opinion. Only 39% approve (with 52% disapproving) of the job Gecom Chair Ret’d Justice Claudette Singh is doing. Her approval numbers have been steadily falling since her appointment in July when it was at an all time high, higher than all politicians. Many voters feel the chair has to assert greater control over Gecom and take decisions that will lead to a credible election.
Asked if they approve of the statement of US Embassy (State Department) calling for a free, fair, and peaceful election, everyone (100%) answered in the affirmative. Voters say they pin their hopes on the US government for FFE and peace. Voters unanimously call on Gecom Chair Claudette Singh to ensure a peaceful election that is free and fair and beyond reproach.The poll also determined the favorability rating of various politicians and popular support of the parties. These will be released in a subsequent release.