Subject: GOVT 2052- Issues In Government and Politics of the Caribbean
To what extent is voting behaviour a rational and issue based activity in Trinidad. Answer:
The study of Voting Behaviour is of fundamental importance to students of Politics. This is due to the fact that it is: a) The most widespread and quantifiable form of political behaviour. b) A rich source of information about the interaction between individuals, society and Politics. c) An important lesson about the nature of the political system and the process of social and political change. d) A rich source of information about the short and long term factors that influence voters.
There are several theoretical perspectives which influence why people vote which aim to explain: a) how the electorates affect government by their voting pattern and b) how government adjusts their actions to win votes.
The various models and theories which attempt to explain Voting Behaviour are: 1.
The Rational Choice Theory
The Party Identification Theory
The Sociological Theory
The Dominant Ideology Theory
The Contributory Theory
The Expressive Theory
The Issues-Based Model
According to Robert Buddan, Voting Behaviour is influenced by the social characteristics of voters. These characteristics determine the extent to which Voting Behaviour will be a rational or issue-based activity in Trinidad.
They are :
The existing Socio-Economic Issues
The Political Party’s Ideological Perception
The Conduct of the Marginal Voter
Statements made by Political Figures during Campaigns
PARAGRAPH #1: THE EXISTING SOCIO-ECONOMIC ISSUES
The manner in which the incumbent Political Party treats with prevailing Socio-Economic Issues determines the extent to which voting will be rational. * The approach that governments take with societal issues; such as crime, corruption, justice, the cost of living and equitable access and distribution of government goods and services; will affect the level of rationality in voters’ behaviour. * If the government fails to deal with these public concerns; that government will be voted out. * This is supported by the Issues-Based Model, which postulates that Voting Behaviour is ultimately determined by the policy preference of voters on a variety of issues. If the party to be voted on is perceived as being capable of addressing burning societal concerns, the public votes to put them in power. * This idea is further corroborated by the Expressive Theory, which hypothesizes that voting is primarily thought of as important because of its ability to ensure a material outcome. If the party is perceived as providing transparency, equity, justice in government activities, and other desirable public commodities, the voters will put them in power. * EXAMPLE: In 2010, disenchantment in the Patrick Manning administration; as a result of the private jet issue, the Calder Hart fiasco, and the Guanapo Heights church for Manning's personal spiritual adviser, Reverend Juliana Pena; sent the PNM into opposition by the People’s Partnership (PP) Government led by Mrs. Kamla Persad Bissessar.
PARAGRAPH #2: RACE/ETHNICITY
Although considered to be an irrational practice and lacking basis in issues, Voting Behaviour to a large extent is determined by race or ethnicity. * Robert Buddan states that “race and ethnicity are the main contributors to party preferences in Trinidad” and that Voting Behaviour in Trinidad has been traditionally based on race. * This situation was initiated under the racial cleavage that developed during the period of colonial rule and was strengthened in the post-colonial period. There were two major parties at the time of Independence: a) The African and coloured-dominated...
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