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Aug 25, 1998

Many voters still undecided, says analyst

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After several months of waiting for each side to deliver a surprise knockout blow in the form of imagined scandal or unsubstantiated accusation, it appears tonight that both major political parties have hunkered down to spend the final thirty six hours in determined house to house campaigning accompanied by massive salvos of television and radio advertising. With the candidates focussed on the voters, News Five decided to look in that direction as well. Our first stop was Hyde’s Lane where we spoke to one woman who’s been examining the attitudes of the Belizean public for many years. While we did not ask social scientist Myrtle Palacio to tell us who will win, we did discuss a number of issues, beginning with the question of how confident she is in the integrity of the electoral process.

Myrtle Palacio, Social Scientist

“There have been complaints on both sides of the fences. In terms of the system, the people responsible for the electioneering system, they seem to be open; they’ve come out to the media. And there’s also the process of going to court if one party is not satisfied. So I want to believe that as we go to the polls the list that we have is quite fair.”

Are voters disillusioned?

“Disillusionment is high. People are just tired of politics and politicking and I’m quite sure that there are quite a few electorers who can’t wait for the twenty seventh to come and go so that their life, as they say, will be back to normal. They can watch the amount of TV that they want without the interruptions of ads.

There is disillusionment and it’s about a third. It’s pretty close to a third of that sort of apathy where people feel that politics is not doing any, it’s a personal thing, not doing anything to uplift their standard of living.

But I want to believe that turnout will be high, that that small percent that is saying I am not coming out to vote (It’s about nineteen percent so far up to July) that’s saying I’m not coming out to vote, that they will turnout. For the first time we have, I think, four or five political parties plus independent candidates. That is a lot of people trying to get the electors out.

This is also a new list so that the dead vote – the twenty or so percent – that was bloating the ’93 elector’s list would not be there. I want to believe that it will certainly surpass ’93 which is seventy-two percent on an average. Possibly coming close to ’79 national voter turnout which is, I think, eighty-nine point nine percent.”

Independent candidates?

“We look at the independent candidates as not important. Where the importance will lie for the independent candidates or the third party candidates are in the constituencies with narrow margins of win.”

Prediction?

“This is one of the hardest; this is rarely one of the hardest. I am quite sure there are those who are going to the polls and in the lines and still haven’t made up their minds.”

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