SOE vote could hurt PNP at next election

SOE vote could hurt PNP at next election

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

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A political party that votes against extending the state of emergency (SOE) would receive far less support at the next election, even as the majority of people polled say it makes no difference to how they would mark their ballot.

Those views were unearthed by veteran pollster Bill Johnson's team of researchers in a Jamaica Observer-commissioned survey conducted between January 21 and 24, 2019 among 1,008 Jamaicans islandwide.

The findings will be of significant interest to the Opposition People's National Party (PNP) which is still taking flak for its vote last December against a further extension of the SOE in three areas that were being plagued by high crime — St James, St Catherine North Police Division, as well as Kingston Western and St Andrew South.

When the pollsters asked if a political party's vote against extending the state of emergency in an area would be reason to vote for or against that party in the next election, seven per cent of respondents said it would be reason to vote for that party, 35 per cent said it would be reason to vote against the party, 45 per cent said it made no difference, while 13 per cent answered “don't know”.

Of the respondents, 31 per cent said they were strong supporters of the SOE, 32 per cent described themselves a supporters of the measure, four per cent said they strongly opposed the measure, while six per cent said they were opponents of the SOE.

At the same time, 27 per cent were ambivalent.

Of those who indicated that they usually support the PNP, 12 per cent said the fact that the party opposed the extension of the SOE would be a reason to vote for it, while 27 per cent said it would be a reason to vote against the party.

Of those who said they usually support the governing Jamaica Labour Party, seven per cent said the no vote would be a reason to vote for the party that opposed the SOE, while 53 per cent said it would be a reason to vote against the party that opposed the SOE.

The Government had gone to Parliament hoping to secure a further three-month extension of the SOE, which was generally accepted as effective in reducing crime, particularly murders.

However, the Opposition, after supporting extensions over last year, voted against a further extension, arguing that detainees were being subjected to human rights abuses and that the measure was no longer necessary given the reduction in crimes.

Public anger at the PNP increased after data released by the Jamaica Constabulary Force showed that 353 fewer murders were committed across the country between January 1 and December 15 last year, when compared to the same period in 2017.

The data also showed that in St James — where the first state of emergency was declared on January 18, 2018 — a total of 96 murders were committed over the period January 1 to December 15, compared to 322 for the same period in 2017, a reduction of 70.2 per cent.

In St Catherine North, 94 murders were recorded for the January 1 to December 15 period, compared to 133 over the same period in 2017, a decrease of 29.3 per cent, while in Kingston Western and St Andrew South murders decreased by 25 per cent and 5.2 per cent, respectively.

Johnson explained that the poll has a sampling error of plus or minus three per cent nationally, while in the areas where the SOE was in effect the sampling error is plus or minus nine per cent because the number of individuals polled was only 100 in each area.

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