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Oct 31, 2006

New poll by SPEAR shows government in trouble

Story PictureThe society for the promotion of Education and Research has released the findings of its latest public opinion poll … and, just like the results of the March municipal elections, those numbers are not going to make the ruling party happy. Based on a sampling of four hundred telephone interviews, the SPEAR poll indicates a massive rejection of the People’s United Party and its leader, Prime Minister Said Musa. When asked, “Do you approve or disapprove of the way the Prime Minister is leading the country?” A whopping seventy point five percent of the respondents said they disapprove. Only fifteen point one percent expressed approval, while fourteen point four had no opinion. On the question of whether the P.M. should call general elections within the next six months, over sixty-two percent said he should while just over twenty-four percent disagreed. And if those elections were actually called? According to SPEAR, thirty-two percent would vote U.D.P. compared to eleven point eight percent for the P.U.P. Interestingly almost twenty-three percent of those responding said they would vote for a third party, seventeen percent were undecided, eleven percent would not vote, while five percent declined to respond. Geographically, support for the government was weakest in Dangriga and Belize City, while the P.U.P. did best in the Orange Walk District where the two major parties were locked in a dead heat. SPEAR programme director Gustavo Perera, while not oblivious to the poll’s detractors, believes the numbers don’t lie.

Gustavo Perera, Director of SPEAR
?We feel that the poll reflects the sentiment of the people. What it is saying to us is that a lot more people are a lot dissatisfied with the present state of affairs and that a lot more people would want to hear and see from the political parties what solutions they are now bringing to the table as opposed to just waiting for an election run to hear the usual run of the mill campaign promises. So I think people are becoming a lot more mature as to what they want from the leaders that they elect.?

Kendra Griffith, Reporting
?Now I am sure that there will be someone who will try and debunk your findings. Are you all confident in the accuracy of it, say for instance as compared to like a Gallup poll or something??

Gustavo Perera
?We are fairly confident. We are confident. We are confident about the methodology we used. We are confident about the quality control we implemented and also we feel that is it a very reliable result. And I think that possibly there may be some that may want to challenge it; that also was the case last year when we did it, but for us fortunately six months after that poll, we saw that the results were really on target, so we feel fairly confident that the poll is accurate.?

And that poll did not just relate to voting. A final question asked the four hundred randomly selected Belizeans: “Would you support a law that requires all political parties to disclose their source of campaign finance?” Eighty-one point four percent answered, “yes.”

Gustavo Perera
?We had already been looking at the campaign finance issue; one, because it was an issue that was promised from 2000 when the political reform commission had presented their recommendations for reform and it was never put in place. So that is something that we wanted to be put in place and it is something that we will be advocating for. This poll gives us that opportunity to advocate on that issue, although we?ve heard the Prime Minister say he?s putting in place a law of public disclosure. Well the law is one thing, but the effectiveness is another and we want to see what teeth the law has in terms of actually empowering Belizeans to have a very clearer picture about who are the people who are funding these political parties.?

According to Perera, with general elections scheduled for March 2008, they are hoping to conduct polls at six to eight month intervals. An analysis of this year’s opinion poll will be included in SPEAR’s November newsletter.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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