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Political parties must woo undecideds to increase voter turnout, says Spence

Political commentators Dr. Nadeen Spence and Damion Gordon
 
Political commentator Dr. Nadeen Spence believes that the low voter turnout in Monday's Local Government election is due to the heavy reliance of the Jamaica Labour Party and the People's National Party on their die-hard supporters to win elections.
 
She says both political parties need to focus on reaching the undecided voters and woo them with policies. 
 
According to preliminary results from the Electoral Office of Jamaica, only 29.6 per cent of those eligible to vote decided to cast their ballot on Monday.
 
Dr. Spence, who was a guest Tuesday on the Morning Agenda on Power 106, said the lower voter turnout could also be due to some JLP supporters not casting their ballots.
 
"If the PNP base is excited and has turned out to vote, and what we were seeing the last time was that the PNP base never turned out, and so the PNP lost - and we would have expected this to be an election of the base - then it means that those who would have supported the JLP didn't turn out to support them. And so the question is, what is happening with the JLP and its message and its machinery and its ability to get the vote out." 
 
Dr. Spence also asserted that some voters may have shied away from the poll because they do not see the relevance of local government. 
 
"The parliamentarians have left their areas of responsibility and have gone to do what local government representatives are supposed to do. And so people don't know the councillor, don't see the need for the councillor, don't understand the intention of local government in the firsts place. So I think the parties need to go back to the drawing board, both parties, and clearly delineate this space for the councillor within our political arrangements and governance arrangements," she contended. 
 
Dr. Spence and political commentator Damion Gordon believe the preliminary results indicate that more voters are shifting towards the People's National Party and away from the Jamaica Labour Party.
 
They say the PNP has gained momentum since the last general election, appears to be more confident and its supporters are energized.
 
Both Mr. Gordon and Dr. Spence say the PNP performed creditably.
 
Mr. Gordon said the PNP has also challenged the notion that it is unlikely to attract votes given the popularity of Andrew Holness and his administration. 
 
"Several of those councils that JLP has retained, the PNP would have won more divisions this time around than it did in 2016. So if we were to look at those different indicators of success or a good night - the popular vote, the number of divisions won nationally, and then the distribution of the councils and then control of the municipalities, which is a different indicator - last night, by all stretch of the imagination, by any objective measure that we can think of, indicate that the People's National Party have performed far more favourably than the ruling party," he asserted. 
 
Dr. Spence believes the PNP was better prepared for Monday's local government election.
 
"I think the PNP has been on the ground for a longer time. I think they have done more hand-to-hand combat.... The ruling party didn't get on the ground until they announced the election, which was  a month ago, and they clearly had a lot to make up for. And what it tells us is that they didn't have time to make up the ground they had lost," she suggested.
 


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