The latest opinion poll from the North American Caribbean Teachers Association (NACTA) shows growing popularity for President Irfaan Ali’s administration (Government) and himself.
The Dr. Ali administration has had to grapple with several major issues, including COVID, tested economy, occasional flooding, Ukraine, soaring inflation, the uncooperative official Opposition, disruptions in Parliament, attempts at provoking instability, stoking of race relations, and other insurmountable challenges; but since becoming President in August 2020, the Ali administration has received a highly favourable response for turning around the economy, ensuring political stability, implementing “a one united Guyana” policy, combating COVID as well as high unemployment and inflation, mitigating incessant flooding, doling out stimulus and other financial grants, handing out farming subsidies, and tackling so many other challenges.
And in so doing, the administration has been receiving widespread approval from the public for its performance.
According to the poll, the majority of respondents said the country has been on the move over the last 20 months, and they are supportive of the President and his venture to build a better nation.
They also expressed fondness for the President, saying he comes across as a likable person and a family man.
Even non-supporters and critics are impressed with how the President carries about himself and the Government’s performance, and the President’s handling of his responsibilities: a stark contrast to his predecessor.
Even many Public Servants, members of security forces, and other traditional supporters of the Opposition gave a positive review of President Ali and his administration.
The latest poll finds the President’s approval rating and those of his Government and most Ministers are up from similar polls conducted late last year. His administration also scored high on the public rating of the budget, although challenges remain, with the public complaining about skyrocketing inflation.
Almost every respondent is worried about crime, with a large majority also saying inflation has been a major problem affecting their standard of living over the last several months.
The poll was conducted in late February and March by this writer, who has been conducting political surveys in Guyana and the Caribbean region since 1990. The sample of 750 adults was stratified to reflect the demographics of the population.
Based on the findings of the March poll, President Ali’s approval rating stood at 72%, up by 8% from late last year, with a disapproval of 21%; 7% offered no opinion. The Government’s overall performance rating was 62%, with a disapproval of 32%. Prime Minister Mark Phillips’s performance approval rating was 63%, with a disapproval of 29%. Vice President Jagdeo’s approval rating was 70%, with a disapproval of 20%; 10% offered no opinion.
The administration’s approval rating has seen an uptick because of its handling of the many challenges facing the country, and its grounding with the people. The President, Prime Minister, Vice President and Ministers have been on outreaches, engaging the public to find out their problems, and addressing same. Many said the President, VP, the PM and the Ministers have been working very hard. The Vice President, in association with Dr. Ashni Singh, has been credited for his management of the economy.
Respondents gave the President a thumbs-up for going out meeting people routinely, for having a common touch with ordinary folks, and for hosting celebrations of festivals like Phagwah at the lawns of State House. Asked about the recent budget, some 76% of the respondents gave a thumbs-up with only 19% expressing dissatisfaction.
Almost every respondent said they are pleased with Government’s efforts to cushion the blow from sudden inflation attributed to COVID, global fuel price hikes, rising shipping costs, and other factors, but they feel more needs to be done to lower the costs of basic goods. They say prices keep rising every time they go to the market or grocery stores.
The poll asked respondents who they would describe as the leading Ministers, based on performance and who have reached out to the public. All the Ministers received majority positive rating. Respondents say several Ministers touched their hearts, including Zulfikar Mustapha, Vindhya Persaud, Collin Croal, Anil Nandlall, Deodat Indar, Bishop Edghill, Kwame McCoy, Susan Rodrigues, among others.
Vishnu Bisram (PhD)