Wed | Mar 21, 2018

New party must tap new voter class

Published:Wednesday | March 30, 2016 | 12:00 AM


The last two general elections have shown a fast, downward spiral as it relates to voter turnout: 53 per cent in the 2011 general election and 47 per cent in 2016. This may say to some that the electorate is uninterested and immature, but I say differently.

The low turnout in both elections brought us two one-term governments. This shows to me that the electorate is maturing and is no longer beholden to one party or the other. Voters are starting slowly to base choices around the issues and, as such, forcing issue-driven campaigns. This is a green shoot for any new party.

With the campaigns fast becoming issues based, the prospective new party must have a raft of good ideas that it can articulate to the masses. This is tricky because while one wants to get the diehard voters, one also wants to get the detached middle class that, so far, has refused to vote.

This means that the party must do wall-to-wall campaigning in the traditional diehard areas.

What is needed in the disaffected areas is a permanent post in those areas. The new party must be on the ground, constantly egging on the middle class to vote. It must provide them with a plan that can ensure the stability of the working and middle class. It must hammer home the fact that they, the 53 per cent that does not vote, hold the key to reform.

A new party must flood the airwaves and cyberspace, not with slander and innuendo, but instead with issues and solutions to the problems we will face. They need to be a constant presence and thorn in the side of the two parties.

It must act like a pressure group when it gets on an issue, but be as organised as a political party can be. It must ensure that it is at the community's every beck and call.

A new electorate is emerging in Jamaica. The prospective new party can't afford to sit idly by and do things the old way. It must awaken those who stay at home and influence those committed to voting. To not do that would be to play into the hands of two parties that are desperate and willing to do anything to gain and retain power.