JLP gets thumbs up with lo­cal gov’t vic­to­ries

Jamaica Gleaner - - FRONT PAGE - Ed­mond.camp­bell@glean­erjm.com

With the Fe­bru­ary 25 gen­eral elec­tion win pro­vid­ing well-needed mo­men­tum for its can­di­dates, the gov­ern­ing Ja­maica Labour Party (JLP) yes­ter­day over­turned the Peo­ple’s Na­tional Party's (PNP) stran­gle­hold on mu­nic­i­pal cor­po­ra­tions and took con­trol of the ma­jor­ity of the lo­cal author­i­ties is­land­wide.

The JLP won eight of the mu­nic­i­pal cor­po­ra­tions to the PNP’s

four, while there was a tie in both the St Thomas and St Cather­ine mu­nic­i­pal cor­po­ra­tions.

Prime Min­is­ter An­drew Hol­ness, in his vic­tory speech to a large crowd at the JLP’s Bel­mont Road, St An­drew, head­quar­ters, said he was proud to be lead­ing the party at this time in the his­tory of Ja­maica’s devel­op­ment.

Hol­ness called the vic­tory a ref­er­en­dum on the Gov­ern­ment’s per­for­mance over the last nine months. This fol­lowed the party’s nar­row win by one seat in the Fe­bru­ary 2016 gen­eral elec­tion.

“Ja­maica is say­ing you have per­formed, but again, we are not go­ing to take it for granted. We are go­ing to work even harder be­cause the sit­u­a­tion at the cen­tral gov­ern­ment is still tight and there is no room for er­ror or com­pla­cency.

“I love and re­spect all of you,” he said, adding: “I want

you to know that the vic­tory that you have given to the JLP will not be taken for granted. You have come out and you have voted. Granted, the turnout is low, but you have come out and voted. You have voted, not be­cause you are loyal sup­port­ers but you have voted be­cause you have ac­cepted our mes­sage that we will to­gether build Ja­maica to make Ja­maica a more pros­per­ous place for you and your chil­dren.”

PORTIA NO-SHOW

PNP Pres­i­dent Portia Simp­son Miller did not show up to ad­dress sup­port­ers who gath­ered at PNP head­quar­ters last night.

The job was left to Paul Burke, gen­eral sec­re­tary of the party, who con­ceded that de­spite the hard work done by party work­ers, the PNP had suf­fered a “not un­ex­pected” loss.

“We have some se­ri­ous work to do on the ground; we went into the elec­tion with zero bud­get,” Burke said, ar­gu­ing that the odds were also against the party as it went up against the Gov­ern­ment’s $600-mil­lion de­bush­ing ex­er­cise that was car­ried out in the run-up to the elections.

PNP Deputy Gen­eral Sec­re­tary Ju­lian Robin­son, in his con­ces­sion speech, thanked Ja­maicans for par­tic­i­pat­ing in the demo­cratic process, not­ing that the elec­tion went smoothly.

“That au­gurs well for democ­racy.”

The prized may­oral job in Port­more, St Cather­ine, re­mains with the PNP, as the act­ing mayor Leon Thomas will main­tain the top job in the so-called Sun­shine City, re­pelling the chal­lenge of the JLP’s Keith Blake.

At the same time, the Kingston and St An­drew Cor­po­ra­tion (KSAC) will have a new mayor as the JLP picked up 21 di­vi­sions to the JLP’s 19 di­vi­sions in Kingston and St An­drew, giv­ing them the as­cen­dancy at the KSAC.

Nine months af­ter the PNP’s loss in the gen­eral elec­tion, some an­a­lysts ar­gued that the party’s de­feat in the lo­cal gov­ern­ment polls was not pri­mar­ily a vote on is­sues at the com­mu­nity level but a cru­cial test of Portia Simp­son Miller’s lead­er­ship.

With the re­sults in yes­ter­day’s polls ap­par­ently leav­ing the PNP limp­ing, it is left to see if this lat­est po­lit­i­cal whip­ping of the party now in Op­po­si­tion will once again put Simp­son Miller on the back foot, leav­ing her to con­tem­plate a de­par­ture from the helm of the party.

Simp­son Miller has lost two gen­eral elections, in 2007 and 2016, while scor­ing a vic­tory in 2011. In the lo­cal gov­ern­ment polls, the PNP has won one and lost two un­der the lead­er­ship of Simp­son Miller.

How­ever, po­lit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor Martin Henry said yes­ter­day’s de­feat suf­fered by the PNP would have no di­rect

im­pact on her timetable to leave the party.

30 PER CENT TURNOUT

Both po­lit­i­cal par­ties were de­pend­ing heav­ily on their base to come out in yes­ter­day’s polls to se­cure a win. How­ever, with about 30 per cent of the elec­torate ex­er­cis­ing their fran­chise, it is ap­par­ent that the JLP out­ma­noeu­vred the PNP on the ground, pulling out more of its diehards to take con­trol of the ma­jor­ity of mu­nic­i­pal cor­po­ra­tions. Yes­ter­day’s low turnout of elec­tors rep­re­sents a lit­tle more than four per­cent­age points fewer (34.7) than those who voted in the 2012 lo­cal gov­ern­ment polls, while in the Fe­bru­ary gen­eral elec­tion, 52.7 per cent of vot­ers cast their bal­lots.

The JLP se­cured ap­prox­i­mately 52.3 per cent of the pop­u­lar vote, while the PNP man­aged to get about 47 per cent of the vote.

There was a major up­set in yes­ter­day’s polls, with for­mer mem­ber of par­lia­ment for St El­iz­a­beth South West­ern-turned­can­di­date care­taker for the PNP, Richard Parch­ment, los­ing by 211 votes to the JLP’s Don­ald Simp­son for the Malvern divi­sion of the parish. In ad­di­tion, for­mer mayor of Mon­tego Bay, the PNP’s Glen­don Har­ris of the Ma­roon Town divi­sion, failed to stave off the chal­lenge of the JLP’s Everes Coke, who won by 81 votes.

JER­MAINE BARNABY/ FREE­LANCE PHO­TOG­RA­PHER

From left: JLP Leader An­drew Hol­ness cel­e­brates with party of­fi­cials Des­mond McKen­zie and Aun­dré Franklin (partly hid­den).

Juliet Hol­ness (right), wife of Ja­maica Labour Party Leader An­drew Hol­ness, cel­e­brates with party sup­port­ers at Bel­mont Road.

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