Archive for the ‘Public opinion’ Category

A seventeen-year-old learns why others vote

Thursday, August 2nd, 2007

At 17 years of age trainee reporter Jermaine Evans is one short of voting, but is nonetheless covering the election campaign for

We sent him out to learn what it means to mark an ‘X’ beside your chosen candidate; and perhaps his experience might remind those who are eligible, but otherwise disinterested, about exercising their democratic right to vote.


Voters in Jamaica have elected a government 11 times since Independence in 1962. What surprises me, is that despite many of them complaining their party does nothing, they continue to vote that way. Meanwhile other complainers do not vote at all since the politicians do not do what they want; which, unfortunately for those voters, means our politicians are even less likely to do what they want.

For a young person such as myself there remain many questions about voting, and leaving the office I was unsure what more seasoned citizens might teach me. Perhaps if the election were to happen next year, I might be better informed; or better still, I could share some of this information with my peers.

Not everyone could answer my questions about why they vote. For a start, of the 20 people that I spoke to most were not registered to vote and therefore ineligible to answer my questions.

Politically aligned but yet to vote
Welder Courtney Wallace was the first person I spoke to. Aged 25, he was old enough to vote for the first time in the last election – he didn’t. However he might this time around.

Q: Are you aligned to a party?
A: Yea, me aligned to a special party. The Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).
Q: Have you ever voted before?
A: No
Q: Have you ever imagined how it would feel to vote for the first time?
A: Jamaica need a change, me feel like fi vote fi my party so Jamaica can get a change because the other party nah do nutten’ right now. Bruce look like him can lead so I might vote for the JLP this year.
may this time around.

Forced to vote
The experience of John, an unemployed young man from Rae Town would be familiar to many Jamaicans whose voting habits are determined by the political alignment of their community.

Q: Have you ever voted before?
A: Yea inna 2002 general election.
Q: Why did you vote at that time?
A: Mi never did want vote. Mi see some man come fi mi and say mi fi vote. Coz dem say my father used to beat people fi go vote. When mi see them come fi mi, mi all did a cry to.
Q: Are you thinking of voting again?
A: Mi no know, probably mi wi vote again.

An independent voter

Finishing up talking to John I introduced myself to Merrick, a curious passerby, who had a lot to say. A ‘40-odd’ year-old security guard, he began his voting life as a Labourite.

Q: When was the first time you voted?
A: 1977 parish council election
Q: Which party are you currently aligned to?
A: I don’t aligned to any party, coz me is a ‘staunched born’ Laborite, and ‘die-hearted’ socialist, with a ‘National Democratic Movement’ mind. So I can vote any way I choose.
Q: How many times have you ever voted?
A: Me? 1980 mi vote ‘bout 300 time. Coz mi mash up all station and tek weh ballad box.
Q: Are you going to be voting again this year?
A: No mi nah vote.
Q: Why not?
A: I don’t like di candidate them weh ‘roun ya (Central Kingston)

The party loyalist
Ancillary worker, ‘Mom’, who is 58, will vote for anyone, just as long as they are PNP.

Q: How old where you the first time you voted?
A: The first time I voted I was 21.
Q: How did you feel voting for the first time?
A: Mi never feel no way, mi just go and mi vote.
Q: What influenced you to vote at that time?
A: My constitutional right.
Q: How many times have you voted before?
A: Mi vote ’72, ’76, ’80, ’97 and 2002.
Q: Why will you be voting again this year?
A: Because mi feel like mi should still vote. I see di party doing well, at least to me

The youth vote
Christina, a 19-year-old beauty, relaxing under a tree with her four friends, will be voting for the first time.

Q: Have you ever voted before?
A: No but definitely this year.
Q: Why will you be voting this year?
A: Because I love Portia and I want her to win.
Q: Why?
A: Because of the things that she has done for the poor people, she is the poor people defender.
Q: How do you think you will feel on the day that you vote?
A: I’ll feel good because I’m finally doing what I want to do, and everybody in Jamaica have the right to vote.

People’s Manifesto

Saturday, July 21st, 2007

manifesto4.jpgThe August 27 election date has been announced but voters are still awaiting the manifestos of both main parties - the issues over which the elections are supposed to be contested.

Meanwhile Gleaner Online asked members of the public what they would do were they to wake up on the morning of Tuesday August 28 as the newly elected Prime Minister of Jamaica.

What follows are the manifestos of persons surveyed in Half-Way Tree earlier this week. Each was asked to describe their leadership style and outline five priority areas for their hypothetical Government.

We are also interested in receiving personal manifestos from persons all over Jamaica and the Diaspora. “Dis countri need a sortin’ out,” said one respondent.

What would you do?


Business Executive Mary Smith-Allen says her leadership would be informed by public consultation. Mrs. Smith-Allen would work with youths to gain a consensus for policy planning. She also wants policy makers to develop a working understanding of the ‘negative psyche’ effecting the country - again via public consultation.


1. Improve access to vocational courses for young people in poor communities. Teaching them a skill would re-channel their energies towards the job market and deter them from involvement in crime.

2. Tackle the problem of the lack of values in schools. Students are too against each other; too much labeling and negative peer pressure. Being literate is insufficient – the student must leave school with a feeling of self-worth. They must be able to relate to others, know their sexuality and be able to resolve conflict peacefully.

3. Get young people off the streets and ensure students go home after school. The police will play a vital role in this effort under my government.

4. Redevelop the agricultural sector so it can regain the strength it had in the 1970’s.

5. Address the loss of culture and identity following the influence of American cable stations.


Andre Gordon, who is a 19-year-old student, says he would be a financially responsible Prime Minister. Andre would ensure the budget clearly identifies how each expense will be financed too avoid excessive government borrowing. His administration would instead increase its revenues by stimulating investment and encouraging the growth of the export sector.


1. House and provide care for street people.

2. Fix the roads properly.

3. Address the decline in the agricultural sector by reducing imports and producing more for local consumption and export. This would also be done with the aim of increasing foreign exchange reserves.

4. Education is a must. More schools would be built and equipped with computers and books.

5. Reduce political tribalism.



Nail technician Colleen Dickson is chiefly concerned about the so-called ‘brain drain’ of qualified workers who go overseas in search of job opportunities, leaving a shortage of their skills locally. A Ms. Dickson-led administration would therefore provide incentives to encourage such persons to remain in the Jamaican labour market and boost national development.


1. Lobby against absentee fathers.

2. Greater sanctions against men who beat women.

3. Free secondary education.

4. Greater availability of improved housing for average Jamaicans.

5. Enable persons to travel abroad at least once in their life.