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LETTER OF THE DAY - Voter apathy in Jamaica disturbing

Published:Thursday | October 16, 2014 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:It has been reported that in a recent public opinion poll in Jamaica, people are so disenchanted with the governance of the country that a whopping 41 per cent of those enumerated stated that they would not vote if an election was held today. In addition, 16 per cent were undecided. This finding does not augur well for democracy. What is even more alarming and disturbing is the fact that the pollsters expect the number of declared non-voters to increase to 60 per cent very soon.

Of course, there are all kinds of reasons for voter apathy, but the one that I find most far-fetched comes from Richard Crawford, a political scientist at the University of the West Indies. I was taken aback when the professor argued that this voter apathy is because of Jamaica's continued adherence to the British Westminster model of governance which he said has outlived its usefulness.

I am not sure about the professor's rationale for his conclusion, but I don't see how a drastic transfer from a British parliamentary model to an American presidential model, for example, could remedy voting apathy in Jamaica.

In my opinion, the Westminster model with its fusion of the executive and legislative branches of government is better poised to expedite and pass legislation. On the contrary, the presidential model with its separation of powers is a prescription for gridlock whereby the executive branch and the legislative branch are in a constant battle for dominance.

The real trouble in Jamaica is not with the Westminster model of governance, but with the elected representatives who seem to have perverted the system. No resorting to a presidential system will ever rectify the current dissatisfaction among the majority of Jamaicans.

There is so much outright distrust of politicians in Jamaica that many eligible voters have decided to opt out of the political system, entirely signifying their disdain for the two existing political parties.

This total distrust of politicians is so rife that it has now galvanised into what can only be described as chronic apathy. It may be said that the masses are now completely fed up with the blatant lies and vain promises of their political leaders. The masses are so tired of being fed with a steady diet of political junk food, that their stomachs can no longer digest the usual inordinate supply of this toxic political fare.

RUPERT JOHNSON

r.b.johnson@sympatio.ca

Toronto, Ontario

Canada, M1C 3M7