The majority of people in Antigua and Barbuda
The poll, conducted by the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Research Services Inc (CADRES) found that 62 per cent of the 800 people polled during the period October 12-14, said they supported a move to the Trinidad-based CCJ as the island’s final court.
Antigua and Barbuda will vote in a referendum on November 6.
CADRES said that the opinion poll was devoted to an exploration of the referendum issue and sought to understand how Antiguans felt about the CCJ in principle and also how they planned to vote on November 6 .
“In addition, questions as to major reasons why people supported and opposed the CCJ were explored in an effort to provide some amount of context on this issue,” the pollster said, adding that the methodology used was similar to that of previous CADRES polls in Antigua and Barbuda.
It said the face to face survey exercise was conducted by interviewers who administered a short, standardised questionnaire to approximately 800 respondents that were randomly selected from all constituencies across Antigua.
According to CADRES, the majority of those polled (62 per cent) said they “Supported the move to the CCJ” either now or in the future, while 17 per cent said they “did not support the move to the CCJ” and 22 per cent preferred “not to say” how they felt about this issue.
“Thereafter respondents were presented with a list of possible reasons why they would vote “For” or “Against” the CCJ and asked to indicate which single reason appealed to them most. Among those who supported the CCJ, the most compelling reason was the suggestion that the CCJ was “cheaper to access” while” those who opposed the CCJ thought that it would be “more open to political influence”.
CADRES said that responses to the central question of how persons intend to vote at this time if restricted to those committed to vote either “For” or “Against” demonstrate that the required threshold of 66.6 per cent has narrowly been achieved at this time.
However, CADRES would caution that this outcome could be affected either by any variation in the margin of error of the poll (+/- 5%) or if the participation of the Barbudan voters (two per cent) shifts the pendulum away from the “Yes” vote”.
CADRES acknowledged that the views of Barbudans were not canvased on this occasion, but noted that a 2016 poll did cover the island still recovering from the ravages of Hurricane Irma.
“Comparatively, we note a marginal improvement in the level of support for the CCJ, a plus two per cent compared to a marginal reduction in the level of opposition, a minus two per cent, which can easily be explained by the exclusion of Barbuda on this occasion which was purely on account of our client’s timeline for completion”.
In October 2016 CADRES indicated that it felt the referendum would “narrowly achieve the margin necessary for the measure to pass” and at this time “we are similarly persuaded, but caution that the margin here is “razor thin”.
CADRES said it also explored the reasons for support and opposition more exhaustively and noted that the primary characteristic that separated those “For” from those “Against” is their political affiliation with supporters of the ruling Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) being more inclined to support the CCJ, while supporters of the United Progressive Party (UPP) are less inclined.
“This relationship was noted in 2016 an is no less pronounced on this occasion, notwithstanding efforts to de-politicise the vote. There were; however other reasons for support and opposition gleaned on this occasion and we believe that this information will be a useful basis for dialogue in the final weeks leading up to November 6, 2018,” CADRES said.
The CCJ was established by regional governments on 2001 to replace the Privy Council as the Caribbean final court. But while most of the regional countries are members of the court’s Original Jurisdiction, only Barbados, Dominica, Belize and Guyana are signatories to the Appellate Jurisdiction of the CCJ that also serves as an international tribunal interpreting the Revised Treaty of Chaguaraas that governs the regional integration movement.
Apart from Antigua and Barbuda, voters will also be casting ballots in a referendum on November 6 on the CCJ issue.