In the political sense, there are three kinds of people in Belize. There are people who are UDP, people who are PUP, and people who are sometimes referred to as independents. The independents are people who make up their minds how they will vote according to the arguments and candidates which are presented to them during political campaigns. In other words, the independents don’t have their minds made up before the fact. If you want independents to support you, then you have to seek to influence them through some medium and in some way other than by straight party propaganda.
It is thought that the independents are fewer in number than the separate blocs of committed voters who are traditionally UDP or PUP. We wonder about this in the modern era, because the lines between the two major parties are not as clear as they used to be. Belizean voters are not as passionate along party lines as they used to be in the prime times of Mr. Price (PUP) and Mr. Goldson (NIP), which were in the 1950s and 1960s. Guatemala was the smoking issue back then. Our voters are not even as passionate as they were in the 1970s, when communism and independence were dividing Belizeans along party lines. Compared to back then, the lines between the PUP and the UDP have become blurred. So then, we believe that, percentage wise, there are more independent Belizean voters in 2012 than there have ever been before.
Even if, and we doubt it much, their numbers have not grown in the last two and three decades, the independents would still be very significant politically, because, all things being equal, they hold the balance of power in tight elections. We are saying that a politician cannot only appeal to the voters of his/her party: the politician has to appeal to those voters who are independent. Those politicians who have become entrenched over time will sometimes get votes from voters who ordinarily support the other party. It may be, then, that independents are not as important for entrenched politicians as they are for newcomers. Whatever.
Her Majesty’s Loyal PUP Opposition appear to have decided that they are a lock to win future elections and to return to power in Belmopan, so they don’t need to play any games with Kremandala, a media organization which most observers believe to be influential with independent voters. In fact, it is since 2009 that the PUP have been saying that Kremandala and its chairman have been bought by the UDP and Prime Minister Barrow, which is by way of saying to their PUP members and supporters that Kremandala should not only be ignored: it should be reviled.
Well, to tell the truth, we really wish we knew where all this money is which Mr. Barrow has bought us with, because we could certainly use it. To listen to the PUP, there was and is a chunk of money involved, and money like this will serve anyone well in these difficult times.
The notable aspect of this propaganda is that it is being spread by PUP agents who can themselves genuinely claim to be on the indigent side of life. The big boys who escaped with all the millions between 1998 and 2008, those big boys whom the former PUP Leader, John Briceño, pleaded with back in October of 2011 to come back and bring back their millions, those big boys are invisible and inaudible. They make themselves invisible and inaudible because they can’t fool anyone, and they especially can’t fool independent voters. There is no hunger out there in big boy-ville.
We think Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition are being deceived by the results of the March 2012 general elections. This is not to say that the PUP are mistaken in their optimism where the future is concerned. It is to say that something happened in the 2012 general elections which was unprecedented in Belizean politics. There has never been this large and noticeable a discrepancy between the Belize City/District voters and the voters in the countryside – the other five Districts. We have been considering this phenomenon for months, and it appears to us that there was only one media house which enjoyed a national electronic monopoly, and it wasn’t Kremandala. In the 2012 general elections, Kremandala was officially neutral. Was the national monopoly house as neutral in 2012 as it had been in the previous four general elections? Hmmm.
The classic situation in which an Opposition party came close to victory in national elections and then became confident of achieving power in the subsequent elections, was the UDP between 1974 and 1979. The UDP came quite close to victory in 1974, but the PUP widened their margin of victory in 1979 considerably. There are no guarantees in general elections, because no party can account for the independent voters. Independents vote as they wish, and they wave no flags.
Now, if the PUP feel that they have to convince their own party members/supporters that Kremandala has been bought by the UDP, and is absolutely not to be trusted, that is fair enough. Fine. You have to keep your people in line. If, however, some bright boy over there believes that after 43 years he can prove to independent voters that Partridge Street has gone on BelChina’s payroll, such a bright boy needs to provide some proof. Independents are people who think for themselves, and, as we say in the streets, they pick sense out of nonsense.
Power to the people.