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UWI/Sunday Guardian poll returns
In a democratic society like T&T, the success or failure of its institutions can be measured by polls. In keeping with its sacred thrust toward democracy, the Sunday Guardian and Trinidad Guardian newspapers, an arm of Guardian Media Ltd, went one step further and published year-round surveys. The focus was not only on elections but major issues such as governmental representation. Dr Derek Chadee, head of the ANSA McAL Psychological Research Centre/Senior Lecturer at the University of the West Indies in the Department of Behavioural Sciences, St Augustine, has been spearheading these polls. Chadee said national polls can be viewed as a barometer for a democratic society, which the Greeks defined as “government of the people, for the people, and by the people.”
They also conduct checks and balances and monitor the status quo. For example, it would serve as a guide for political leaders who might have a tendency toward maximum leadership or hubris. “Individuals sometimes hold idiosyncratic views which they may believe are widely endorsed in their communities. The results of the public surveys also serve to acquaint the masses on their collective views which may be in fact relatively unfamiliar to them,” added Chadee. “Among the overreaching aims of the polls is to provide an ample reflection of societal reaction to major issues. Polls of this nature can be viewed as pertinent and accessible gauges of people’s views at a given point in their history,” Chadee added.
Guardian conducts year-round polls
T&T has the distinction of being the only English-speaking Caribbean country that publishes these polls consistently. Chadee said: “It (ANSA McAL polls) is the first one of its kind in the English-speaking Caribbean. No other newspaper has done this consistently. “You have had newspapers do that in other countries when an election is taking place in a country. “You have had newspapers who have had polls. You have had the man-on-the-street. But it is done consistently by the Trinidad Guardian even when the election fever has abated.” To date, the ANSA McAL polls, which were commissioned by the Guardian in 1998, has published more than 150 national polls over the past 13 years. The Guardian also came in for kudos for its social responsibility in upholding tenets of democracy and being a watchdog for the society.
“It is a good way to gauge the society’s views and the Guardian has to be complimented for its excellent initiative. “The Trinidad Guardian has tried to get people’s opinions consistently on a number of issues,” Chadee said. “The Trinidad Guardian poll allows for us to retain legitimacy as the Vox Populi,” said Chadee.
About the polls
Poll starts next Sunday
Next Sunday, the polls returns. It will focus on social, economic and political issues including the performance of the Prime Minister and the People’s Partnership to date, crime, health, Clico debacle and the death penalty. Chadee said: “The polls would be a regular feature. It would present surveys on a number of current and topical issues that affect the lives of citizens across T&T.” Since its inception the polls have covered national issues like HIV/Aids, discrimination and abortion. They have examined health care, education, crime, national budget, policing and natural disasters.
Chadee said the random digital dialing method was adopted when interviewing respondents.
He said: “We use questionnaires with trained interviewers. The poll is representative of regions within the city and other demographic characteristics of T&T.” The polls focus on samples of about 500 respondents who are 18 and over. Varying ethnicities, religions and socio-economic backgrounds are interviewed.
About the Centre
The Centre was opened in 1989 as an independent research centre at UWI, St Augustine. It was initially directed by social psychologist Prof Ramesh Deosaran, former Head of the Department of Behavioural Sciences. Its mission was to incorporate psychological principles which aid personal, social and national development. Over the years, the Centre embarked upon research projects including issues such as the social psychology of fear. “We have also done projects on social norms like gambling (including wappie),” Chadee added.
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