A new public opinion survey of countries in the Americas has found that support for democracy is declining in Jamaica.
According to the survey, a significant number of Jamaicans are now of the view that their political system is no better than other forms of governance.
The views were expressed in a survey titled the Political Culture of Democracy in Jamaica and in the Americas 2016/17 – A comparative study of democracy and governance.
In addition to declining support for democracy, the public opinion survey also found that the average member of the public is more likely to support extra-legal action, like a coup, to remove elected leaders from office.
The survey also found that in addition to the low voter participation in Jamaica there’s a growing level of distrust in elections in the country.
According to the study, since 2006, support for democracy has been on a steady decline in Jamaica.
In that year, almost 80- percent of the population believed democracy was the best system to choose leaders.
Ten years later, in 2017, only 56-percent of Jamaicans are still of that view.
Although, the cohort of society that’s more educated and wealthier have higher levels of support for democracy.
In addition to the declining faith in democracy, 59-percent of Jamaicans believe a military coup is justified where there’s a high degree of crime.
53-percent of those interviewed believe a military coup is justified where there’s also a high level of corruption. But, only 18-percent of Jamaicans are of the view the Prime Minister should govern without Parliament if the country is facing very difficult times. That’s called an executive coup.
The number of people who would support an executive coup has more than doubled since 2010 when that number was just under 9- percent.
Meanwhile, according to the study, Jamaica’s decline in support for democracy is also showing in the electoral process.
In 2017, only 32-percent of the population said they trust elections.
Also, of the 22 countries surveyed in Americas, Jamaica ranks last in the number of people who said they voted in the last election at 52-point-5 percent.
In addition, the survey found that 22.5 percent of Jamaicans trust political parties in 2017; but 41 percent say they identify with a party.
The survey found that those who’re educated only to the primary level and those older than 66 have the most trust in political parties.
Those who have post-secondary education and between 26 and 35 years old have the least trust in political parties.
The lead author of the survey is leading UWI criminologist, Dr. Anthony Harriott.
One of the conclusions made from the survey is that the downward trend in support for basic democratic values suggests the pubic has become more cynical in their view of electoral democracy as an ideal.