Passing the ball?

There is an interesting article on Bernews today, by former Senator Vic Ball. I’ll let others pass their own judgement on aspects of this ‘sincere congratulations’.

There are two interesting bits to the article that caught my eye though:

  1. His numbers about the vote turnout.
  2. His mention of the recent trend of Caribbean parliamentary landslides.

The latter subject is something I have plans to write about in more detail, namely, (i) why is this phenomenon occurring, and (ii) what it means both for the governing party and the opposition (and, by extension, civil society) in those circumstances.

For now though, let us look at what Mr. Ball is saying. And for that, it is worth quoting him directly:

“…there was a notable 61% increase in the number of people who chose not to vote as compared with 2017. That number stands at a whopping 44% and represents 20,548 voters of a total electorate of 46,311, excluding the three uncontested seats. Clearly all is not well in our democracy.”

This isn’t necessarily wrong – although I don’t think he’s accounted for the three constituencies that were not able to participate in this election due to the OBA and FDM failing to field 36 candidates.

However, it appears to rather overlook some key trends that the election data points out (and that I’ve discussed elsewhere).

Specifically, in reading Mr. Ball’s piece, you would think that this voter decline, this “61% increase in the number of people who chose not to vote” is reflective of an across the board voter decline. The numbers do not bear this out.

While the numbers do indicate that the PLP saw a vote decline of 11% compared to their 2017 vote (accounting for the 3 uncontested seats), the key statistic is that the OBA vote declined by 37.5%!

Yes, there was a voter decline, however this was primarily driven by OBA voters not voting.

There probably would have been a decline in voter turnout as is, however this would have theoretically impacted both the PLP and OBA vote equally. If we assume that the PLP vote decline of 11% is indicative of a normally expected voter decline, the OBA’s 37.5% decline is far beyond that.

Quite frankly, the key story of the 2020 election was not the FDM; it was simply and solely the collapse of the OBA vote. A significant chunk of the OBA voter base decided that they couldn’t vote for the PLP and they couldn’t vote for the OBA as is either. That is the electoral problem that the OBA faces between now and the next election.

Nowhere in the article does the author indicate a recognition of this key statistic of the 2020 election or what it means for the Opposition.

It is said that in order to focus on a solution it is important to understand the problem. Otherwise you’re just kicking the ball into the long grass.

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