Jamaica’s elections open a new chapter

The Parliamentary elections, which were held on September 3, have left the country in yet more confusion. The initial results gave JLP a 31-29 seat victory over incumbent PNP, but the PM has not accepted these results and requested recounts. Director of Elections, Danville Walker, said the official recount begins at 9 o’clock this morning. There is every likelihood that the election results will not known for some time and there may be legal proceedings regarding candidates in some constituencies. There are reports of electoral irregularities, which will complicate reaching final results. Amongst these, PM Simpson-Miller had alleged that some members of the JLP had sworn allegiance to foreign powers which, if true, may make them ineligible to hold seats in the House of Representatives; she also alleged JLP campaigning the day before elections (which is illegal) and vote buying. A good blog to look at, Jamaican Lifestyle (see link) is providing some very interesting insights into Jamaican politics, and its economic and social life. I recommend it for keeping abreast of the election developments. Also worth a read is the lead article in today’s Gleaner (see link).

The various surveys had indicated that the election would be close, with JLP having a slight lead, and indications are that PNP suffered the aftermath of Hurricane Dean, with the slow process of relief and repair hitting its image in the public mind. And so it has proved, in what has been the closest election in terms of seats since Jamaica gained universal suffrage in 1944. The Electoral Office of Jamaica said yesterday’s voter turnout was a modest 60.40 per cent. Politcally motivated violence seems to have reared its ugly head in the days leading up to voting and on voting day itself. Whatever the final outcome of the voting, this election will give much food for thought to both sides.

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