#Jamaicaelections: Jamaica Labour Party wins 33 of 63 constituency seats
On Thursday evening, the Andrew Holness-led Jamaica Labor Party (JLP) squeezed a tight victory over the Portia Simpson Miller-led People’s National Party (PNP), winning 33 seats to the PNP’s 30 in the Jamaican general elections this Thursday. The JLP won 51.7 percent of the votes and the PNP 48.3 percent, a margin of only 3.4 percent – the reverse of what most pollsters predicted.
JLP also proved wrong the pundits’ claims that the party would lose if voter turnout was low. But, with a 52.69 percent turnout – the lowest ever in the country’s history – it was obvious the JLP garnered more support.
The results were surprising to the many South Floridians who hosted election watch parties Thursday evening. Speaking from an election watch party in Pembroke Pines, Hortense Prince said she kept close contact with both parties’ campaign, “and from all reports, the PNP seemed set to win at least 36 seats, and the elections. I am surprised, but offer my congratulations to the JLP and Andrew Holness.”
The Jamaica Labor Part secured victory by winning 11 of 12 marginal seats. These seats included victory by Juliet Holness in the St. Andrew East Rural Constituency over Imani Duncan-Price. Holness will join her husband Andrew in the new Jamaican parliament. Duncan Price’s sister, Patricia Duncan Sutherland, also lost the marginal constituency of Clarendon South Eastern, which she was touted to win over veteran JLP MP Rudyard Spencer. Another closely watched marginal seat in St. Catherine W. Central was won by the JLP’s Dr. Christopher Tufton, who returns to parliament after losing his seat in St. Elizabeth in the 2011 general elections.
Regarding the PNP’s unexpected loss, James Sinclair of Coral Springs suggests that the “PNP was over confident and may not have paid attention to the ground work in the marginal constituencies as they said they would have. The people wanted to see and hear the PNP debate and answer tough questions. I think that would have inspired more people to turn out, including PNP supporters, who may have wanted more assurance from their leaders. I recall Trinidad and Tobago’s former Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar refused to debate her opponent in that countries general election and also lost.”
Prince’s husband Granville said he’s pleased with the closeness of the results. “The PNP has a large parliamentary group, and should be an effective opposition. This is needed, because the PNP did a good job in stabilizing the economy, and the PNP must ensure that the new government build on this and not run the country into an untenable debt situation again. The PNP must also ensure that the JLP keeps its promises to ease the financial burdens on ordinary Jamaicans.”
Most members of Portia Simpson Miller’s cabinet will also return to parliament. “This should allow the new Leader of the Opposition to appoint an effective shadow cabinet,” said Granville.
Holness, 43, will be assuming his second term as prime minister, but this is the first time he has secured the mandate of Jamaican voters. He was elected by JLP parliamentarians to succeed former Prime Minister Bruce Golding in 2011, following Golding’s resignation in October that year. He served for less than three months, when he called and lost the general elections in December 2011. Most members in his Cabinet have also been reelected, including Edmund Bartlett, Audley Shaw, Daryl Vaz, Olivia “Babsy” Grange and Horace Chang. In leading the JLP to victory, Holness also answered his critics, who said he would be unable to lead the JLP to an election victory.
Watch Jamaica Labour Party leader Andrew Holness deliver his victory speech: