After a recount that saw security forces deployed as a precaution, Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) has been declared the winner of that country’s election, unseating the People’s National Party (PNP) by one seat.
JLP candidates won 32 of the 63 constituencies, while the PNP won 31, the Electoral Office of Jamaica said in a statement. It was to communicate final results to Gov.-Gen. Patrick Allen. The JLP entered the race with 21 seats.
JLP leader Andrew Holness, meanwhile, was expected to be sworn in as prime minister by the end of this week.
As the country’s top lawmaker, Holness must take on a number of daunting issues, from high debt to rising crime and deep unemployment. He has pledged to create jobs and economic growth, while improving education and healthcare.
Some political observers and pollsters, however, fear the one-seat margin could make it difficult for the party to usher in some of its reforms and as a result, the country’s 1.8 million voters could soon find themselves back at the polls.
The JLP, however, is hoping to increase its one-seat margin by picking up an additional seat.
Elections officials were summoned to a magisterial recount at Sutton Street Court for the constituency of St. Mary South Eastern. JLP candidate Norman Dunn was initially declared the winner of the seat but lost it in the recount by nine votes after 74 votes were rejected. The seat is now held by the PNP’s Winston Green.
During the recount, Jamaican-born Canadian Philip Mascoll called on his countrymen: “Comrades, I have noticed the rise in invective and vitriol from many of us as the other side crows more and more about their one-seat majority government.” While reservists were deployed, no major problems were reported.
Mascoll, a former Toronto Star editorial writer who is on the ground in Jamaica appealed to the goodwill of his people. “Comrades, please, please, please, behave like the people of honour that we are.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Raulston Nembhard, a priest and social commentator, noted, “There is a confluence of factors that led to the defeat of the PNP at the polls. Not least among them is the very success of the IMF program itself. To use the words of the outgoing prime minister (Portia Simpson-Miller), the life of the ordinary Jamaican was getting harder and harder.”
He said while all of this was going on there was detached leadership from Simpson-Miller in the worst of the chikungunya and dead babies crises and she waffled when the health of many Jamaicans was imperiled at the Riverton dump.
In prime minister-designate Andrew Holness’ victory speech, he spoke of stewardship of power and how accountable his administration will be to the people, including frequent dialogue with Jamaicans.
Nembhard commented, “The new prime minister must understand that he is prime minister of and for all Jamaicans. His first duty and responsibility must be to the people of Jamaica and not to his political party.
“We wish him and his administration well and pray that we will all bend our energies to the building of a strong, just and sustainable Jamaica.”