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AS I SEE THINGS: Economy – top election ‘deal breaker’

AS I SEE THINGS: Economy – top election ‘deal breaker’

By Brian Francis | Thu, January 31, 2013 - 12:00 AM

I have argued on a number of occasions that no single issue can or will determine the outcome of a general election.

It is common practice that voters cast their ballots for one political party over another depending on how strongly they feel about a few major issues that confront the country.

Over the past five years, debates have raged in this country on a wide spectrum of issues that include the need to diversify and restructure the local economy, create employment opportunities particularly for young people, the rising cost of living, the use of alternative sources of energy, the lack of adequate levels of economic growth, the huge fiscal deficit, high debt levels, the provision of housing for lower- and middle-income workers, and protection of workers’ rights, just to name a few.

Few would discount the importance of any of these concerns. However, in making a decision as to which political party should be given the mandate to govern the country over the next five years, members of society would typically assign weights to all of the issues of major concern and the top two or three areas usually become the “deal breakers”. And that scenario is clearly reflected in the recent CADRES poll.

Economic matters were singled out as the biggest concern that would influence the outcome of the next general election.

That inference is based on the fact that in terms of the major issues facing the electorate – the cost of living, unemployment and the economy – received top rankings of 38 per cent, 22 per cent and 14 per cent, respectively.

These findings should not come as a surprise to anyone tracking the economic affairs of the country in recent years as reflected in various reports from the Central Bank of Barbados, the International Monetary Fund, and rating agencies such as Standard & Poor’s.  

What is surprising, though, is the relatively low priority given to some problems that featured prominently in the campaign leading up to the last general election and also held the attention of the government in the past five years.

In essence, the poll numbers suggest that the next general election in Barbados is all about the economy.

Hence, from a strategic perspective, the stage is clearly set for all of the political parties contesting the poll to address the issues that are deemed most important to Barbadians.

How well the parties respond and how the electorate reacts to the messages coming from the various platforms will be determined only after the actual votes are counted.   

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