May 16, 2022

PNP wins additional seat following official recount of ballots

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JamaicaFlag-1From Antigua Observer

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Feb. 28, CMC – The People’s National Party (PNP) has secured another seat in the aftermath of the just concluded general election.

Late Saturday, Director of Elections, Orrette Fisher said the party’s candidate in the constituency of South Eastern St. Mary, Dr. Winston Green, was officially declared the winner of the seat in the eastern parish.

During Thursday’s general election, Green was challenged by the Jamaica Labour Party’s (JLP) Dr Norman Dunn who was originally declared the winner in the preliminary counting of the ballots.

In the final count, Green won the seat by nine votes, however Dunn has indicated that he will be seeking a magisterial recount.

With this development. the JLP now has 32 seats to the PNP’s 31.

Meanwhile Fisher said the official count has not resulted in any changes in any other seats.

So far, the official counting has been completed in 21 constituencies.

The counting will continue Sunday and according to the Director of Elections, could be completed by Monday.

Last Thursday, the JLP headed by Andrew Holness won the majority of the seats in the 63-member Parliament with the remainder going to the People’s National Party PNP that had been seeking a second consecutive term in office.

IMAGE: Jamaica Flag

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The Jamaican Election

Editorial By Guyana Chronicle From Guyana Caribbean Politics

IN WHAT must go down as one of the greatest surprises in modern Caribbean political history, the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) wrested power from the incumbent People’s National Party (PNP) in that country’s latest general election. Many pundits had predicted that the PNP would have won the election by a distance. Few, if any, had thought that the PNP — with its 19-seat advantage going into the election, its incumbency advantage, a relatively popular leader, and its record of presiding over a slight economic recovery — would find itself in the opposition benches.
So what went wrong? First, this election confirms what some political scientists have long argued: political polling in the Caribbean is not as reliable as in other parts of the world. In our confrontational political environment, the fear of retaliation is ever present. In such circumstances, citizens are loath to tell pollsters their honest political preferences. This must have been a factor in the recent Jamaican elections.

Another related element is the size of public meetings. Many commentators use the size of meetings and rallies to gauge electoral support. In our increasingly well-funded campaigns, parties have the capacity to transport supporters and non-supporters to events, and to provide them with entertainment and food. In addition, there are instances when citizens are paid to attend rallies. The size of rallies and meetings, therefore, is not necessarily a reflection of a party’s electoral support.

An important factor in the Jamaican election was the voter turnout, which was pegged at 47%. Low turnout affects all parties, but research has shown that it affects incumbents more. Supporters of opposition parties have more of an incentive to go to the polls — they want to kick out the other party. But beyond that, such a low turnout is a serious indictment of the political process. When one takes into consideration that the turnout at the previous election was just 53%, this development must represent a sort of political crisis.

This is a problem that is observed in most elections in the Anglophone Caribbean. When more than half of your electorate chooses not to vote, the democratic process is seriously compromised. What this means in the Jamaican case is that you now have a government which is representative of approximately a quarter of the electorate. In such circumstances, the legitimacy of the elected government is tenuous.

The other notable outcome of the Jamaican election is the closeness of the result, both in terms of the allocation of parliamentary seats (33-30) and in terms of the popular vote, which is currently pegged at 51.7% to 48.3% in favour of the JLP. Again, this is in keeping with the trend in recent Caribbean elections; in which in four elections in the past year, no winning party has mustered more than 53% of the popular vote. It therefore means that our Caribbean electorates — and by extension the societies — are deeply divided. Under the winner-takes-all system, half of the population is not represented in the executive arm of government, where major day-to-day decisions are made.

Many have attributed the PNP’s loss to the struggling economy and the lacklustre leadership of Portia Simpson-Miller. While the former is debatable, there may be some truth in both contentions; but given the low turnout and the close result, this is hardly a vote of confidence in the JLP alternative economic plan, or the leadership of incoming Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

That said, despite her grassroots popularity among the PNP’s base, outgoing Prime Minister Simpson-Miller has not been a very popular national leader. Indeed, many in the party’s hierarchy preferred Finance Minister Peter Phillips as the party’s leader. Elections have consequences. While there is no big ideological or policy difference between the JLP and the PNP, there is one area that must be of concern to the wider Caribbean — the Integration Movement. The JLP has traditionally not been enthusiastic about integration, and the Prime Minister-elect has personally not shown any overarching inclination in that direction. At a time when the region faces many challenges in the global order and CARICOM is not as vigorous as it used to be, every ounce of solidarity is needed. We hope that the new government recognizes this reality.

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