Friday, 25 January 2008
An opinion poll is predicting victory for the main opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) in the February 7 general elections, but the ruling People’s United Party (PUP) has dismissed the findings as meaningless, biased and partisan.

The poll conducted by SPEAR said that 25.7 per cent of persons interviewed in the six electoral districts said they would vote for the opposition party as compared with 17.5 per cent for the ruling party of Prime Minister Said Musa.

But the pollster said that 27.1 per cent were undecided and 25.2 per cent chose to keep their choice confidential.

The pollster said that they questioned 417 registered voters who were asked six questions including whether or not they would vote and whether the quality of their lives had improved over the last 10 years.

The poll found that “Issues” had been the number one basis given for voting, with party loyalty a distant second at 26.5 per cent while 46.8 per cent felt their lives had improved in the last decade and 47.7 per cent said it had not.

SPEAR said that while the PUP has been dismissive of polls, it was standing by its findings given the last occasion when the PUP wrongly dismissed the predictions of the outcome of the municipal elections.

“All the polls after that they dismissed also so we don’t really expect that it’s going to change at this time. We believe we are in a good place, we believe that it is a test of credibility now between our poll and the test of credibility of the PUP leadership. And I think the results on elections day is going to really speak to that,” said SPEAR director Gus Perera

“The only true test that we have had really because the only election that has occurred since the time we started to poll was the municipal elections and during that election, I think we predicted that the UDP would have got 65 per cent of the votes and the PUP would have got I think 35 per cent.

“The eventual outcome was that the UDP got sixty-two point something per cent and the PUP got 34.5 per cent so that I think was very accurate no?”

“But it is also accurate that 25 per cent of the sponsorship of the SPEAR poll came from the Association of Concerned Belizeans, who recently launched an anti-government advertising campaign,” Perera added.

But he insisted that the group was not part of the polling process, nor were members involved with the design.

“They were not involved with the development and the methodology that was totally a SPEAR work. They contributed as did many other people.”

The PUP and the UDP earlier this week nominated candidates for all 31 seats at stake in the elections. Electoral officials say 93 candidates have been nominated for the polls.

Three other political parties - the National Reform Party (NRP), the National Belizean Alliance (NBA) and the Vision Inspired by the People (VIP) – are also contesting the polls, but political observers say the race is between the Musa’s PUP and the UDP headed by attorney Dean Barrow.