Political beliefs and attitudes in St. Lucia
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In this study I addressed the contextual application of political development theories in the Caribbean with special reference to the post-colonial, politically independent, small-island developing state of St. Lucia. The study was based on research suggesting democratic political culture is an important aspect of political development, especially in developing contexts. I began with a broad examination of extant data regarding institutional arrangements in countries in the Eastern Caribbean and the broader Caribbean region. I used democracy, electoral self-determination, electoral process, physical integrity index, associational and organizational rights, political pluralism and participation, functioning of government, and voter turnout as indices of institutional arrangements. In general, Caribbean countries scored well on these indicators, with few notable exceptions. St. Lucia scored favorably on all indices, except the physical integrity index, which suggests some problems related to the country’s judicial system. I subsequently collected primary data on a sample of 476 St. Lucian citizens and residents to examine political beliefs, values, and attitudes in relation to political participation. I tested relations between interest, self-efficacy, trust, and participation. The results revealed that all of the variables were positively correlated. Additionally, for the St. Lucia sample, political interest and self-efficacy predicted participation in political discourse; interest, self-efficacy, trust in national government, trust in international organizations, and trust in local institutions predicted participation in political activities; and interest, self-efficacy and trust in national government predicted electoral participation. I discuss implications for public policy.
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