High level of distrust in Guyana’s elections- LAPOP poll

Last Updated on Saturday, 27 November 2021, 11:04 by Denis Chabrol

At least 87 percent of Guyanese do not believe that votes in general and regional elections are “never” counted correctly and fairly, according to the latest Latin American Public Opinion (LAPOP) poll conducted this year.

Titled “Pulse of Democracy”, the report states that “there is wide variation across countries in terms of beliefs about election integrity”. While 75 percent of Uruguayans believe that votes are always counted are always counted correctly, only 18 percent in Colombia, Guyana and Jamaica agree. The figures show that 17 percent believe that votes are always counted correctly and 65 percent say sometimes this is done.

The Americas Barometer, regarded as the only scientifically rigorous comparative survey that covers 34 nations, is  made possible with support from the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and Vanderbilt University.

Overall, the figures show that there is a mere  39 percent trust in elections. “The figure reveals considerable variation across countries, with a 59 percentage-point gap between the country with the highest level of trust (Uruguay at 81%) and the country with the lowest (Colombia at 22%). A majority of respondents express trust in elections in only 4 out of the 20 countries in the round,” the report states.

In terms of the rich and foreign governments heavily influencing the outcome of elections, the LAPOP poll reveals that 21 percent of Guyanese do not believe that the rich always buys elections, 66 percent sometimes and 13 percent never.  Twenty-seven percent of Guyanese believe that foreign governments  “always” influence election results, 60 percent sometimes and 13 percent never.

The LAPOP Poll also enquired what style of governance do people expect for their countries. In the case of Guyana, 65 percent of the population prefer “guaranteed basic income and services even if no elections” and 23 percent want “guaranteed basic income and services even if no freedom of expression.”

On the issue of having a strong leader in the government, even if the leader bends the rules to get things done,  57 percent of Guyanese think it is good or very good to do so. The actual raw numbers from the dataset  for Guyana show that 19 percent responded “very good”,  33 percent “good”, 21 percent “neither good nor bad” , 16 percent “bad” and 11 percent “very bad.”

Guyana, which was not among the countries asked the military and executive coup questions, has the highest levels of support for a strong leader, but El Salvador is a close second—consistent with the responses about executive coups. Interestingly, Uruguay, whose public is consistently the least tolerant of military and executive coups, is towards the middle of the distribution when it comes to preferring a strong leader who bends the rules to get things done,” the report states.

Overall, the researchers conclude that the poll shows fact that support for democracy remained stable in the midst of this crisis is an impressive sign of resilience. “In fact, satisfaction with democracy increased marginally in 2021—a sign that the public does not blame democracy for its collective suffering. Yet, skepticism regarding electoral democracy persists. Large numbers of citizens disagree that democracy is the best available political system.”

Guyana’s general and regional elections have for several decades been marred by rigging and other aspects of malpractice. Parties in opposition at any given time have consistently accused each of other of attempting to bloat the voters list or advocating efforts to disenfranchise their rivals.

For the March 2, 2020 general and regional elections, a recount shows that 460,352 ballots were cast, but there are  661,378 listed eligible voters.