A final count of the votes cast in Thursday’s general elections in Jamaica has concluded with the main opposition Jamaica Labor Party unseating the ruling People’s National Party by a narrow margin. Jamaica Labor Party candidates won 32 of the 63 constituencies, while the People’s National Party won 31, the Electoral Office of Jamaica said in a statement. It is expected to communicate the final election results to Governor-General Patrick Allen.
Jamaican reservist soldiers reinforced security at electoral offices on Monday after a final count of votes cast in last week’s general election narrowed the winning party’s majority to one seat in the heavily indebted Caribbean nation. The opposition Jamaican Labour Party (JLP) was declared the victor of Thursday’s closely fought election but after a second count authorities stripped it of one seat, reducing it to 32 of 63 seats. One more constituency remains to be recounted. The tight election reflects division about Jamaica’s economy, with the winners promising low taxes and job after years of austerity under an IMF program. The ruling People’s National Party was credited by many with restoring economic order.
Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller has pleaded for supporters of both major political parties to maintain calm as the recount of ballots continues, following last week’s general election. With reports of tension in some areas across the island, the prime minister has appealed to supporters of both parties to remain calm. Electoral officials yesterday indicated that the recount of ballots for St Thomas Western was relocated to Kingston as a precautionary measure.
Jamaica’s opposition narrowly won a general election on Thursday, with its message of deep tax cuts and massive job creation winning over voters weary of years of tough IMF-mandated austerity measures. The Jamaican Labour Party (JLP) led by Andrew Holness had won 33 of the 63 seats with almost all votes counted, according to the electoral council website. Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller’s party took 30 seats. The sound of airhorns filled the JLP’s headquarters in Kingston as a jubilant crowd of supporters in the party’s signature green waved flags and partied to dancehall music, including a song called “Bye bye Portia, bye bye”.
THE Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) says the Government has already spent $250 million on activities related to a general election that has not yet been held, and that a significant portion of those funds have gone down the drain. Opposition-nominated ECJ Commissioner, Senator Tom Tavares-Finson made the claim yesterday during the debate on a Bill to amend the Representation of the People Act (2015) to reform the way political parties are financed. He told the Upper House that: “We fully recognise that the prime minister has the constitutional right to call an election whenever she decides to do so within the constitutional limit (and) the electoral commission takes signals from what is said publicly and privately submitted a budget for an election which was anticipated to be held before the end of 2015. As a result, monies were presented to the Electoral Commission and from the sum presented so far, $250 million has been spent. A significant portion of that money has been lost because it has been used for training of workers, rental (of property) and so on.”
National Security Minister Peter Bunting is seeking to clarify his position on a proposal to use the voter identification database for crime fighting. Speaking at a function in Hanover last week, Bunting said Parliament should examine the law which prohibits the electoral database from being used to solve crime. He added that he hoped the opposition would support the move.
Phillip Paulwell, the minister with responsibility for electoral matters, has indicated that the Government will be working with the recommendations of the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) on developing political campaign financing legislation. “The Government is in full support of the report, and we will be drafting laws soon to bring to Parliament,” Paulwell said Tuesday during a parliamentary debate on the report of the ECJ, tabled in the House last week. The ECJ, while conceding that no law exists that cannot be flouted, made a raft of recommendations to Parliament on political campaign financing legislation. The proposals were developed following wide-ranging public consultation on the issue.
Jamaica: People’s National Party delivers crushing 41-22 seat defeat to Jamaica Labour Party | JamaicaObserver.com
THE People’s National Party (PNP) sent the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) back into Opposition after scoring a crushing 41-22-seat victory in yesterday’s 16th general election that pollsters and analysts had said was mostly too close to call. A sober but triumphant Simpson Miller told jubilant supporters at PNP headquarters last night that she was thankful to the Jamaican people and Prime Minister Andrew Holness who, she said, called and congratulated her earlier. “He was very gracious.”
PNP President Portia Simpson Miller addressing jubilant supporters last night at PNP HQ after the party’s election victory. She’s flanked by Dr Peter Phillips (right) campaign director and Robert Pickersgill, party chairman. At far left is Delano Franklyn campaign spokesman.
She urged comrades to greet supporters of the losing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) with love in an obvious extension of the olive branch after what was a vigorous and often bitter campaign. “We will be working to move this country forward to achieve growth and development and for job creation,” she said. “As we move to balance the books, we will be moving to balance people’s lives.”
The conduct of the general election last Thursday has earned the approval of the Organisation of American States (OAS), even as two other observer groups, including the Caricom Observer Mission, rated the poll among the best the island has experienced. According to the OAS, the way the polls were held was testament to the “maturity” of Jamaica’s democracy, giving them a passing grade.
The third organisation to give the process the ‘thumbs up’ is the local Citizens’ Action for Free and Fair Elections (CAFFE), whose only criticisms were that the slow casting of ballots where the Electronic Voter Identification and Ballot Issuing System (EVIBIS) was in use and that some polling stations were inaccessible to the elderly and the disabled. Despite the low voter turnout, CAFFE director Dr Lloyd Barnett rated Thursday’s proceedings “fairly highly”.
“…In relation to the actual conduct, the absence of open voting, the absence of intimidation, the observance of the rules – I think this must be rated as probably one of the best, if not the best [election],” Barnett told the Sunday Observer on Friday.
The Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) is warning that there will be strong action against people who seek to commit breaches on Election Day.
Just hours before Jamaicans go to the polls, in a national broadcast last night, ECJ chairman professor Errol Miller also sought to clarify aspects of the electoral process. Professor Miller sought to assure that the integrity of the country’s electoral system will be maintained.
Chairman of the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) Professor Errol Miller says Jamaica can be proud of its electoral system, which has improved significantly since Universal Adult Suffrage in 1944 and continues to advance through the leadership of the ECJ.
“The reform of the country’s electoral process is one of the great accomplishments of the Jamaican people since Independence,” he told JIS News. “We have reached a stage where our electoral process is recognised around the world, and measures we have developed here are being adopted elsewhere. We are called upon to assist many countries in the Caribbean and outside, and our people serve on various committees and are part of various bodies,” he said.
According to Professor Miller, Jamaica adopted from its colonial masters a “flawed electoral process” and from 1944 until 1979 the electoral process was managed ‘colonial style, on a winner take all’ system. “The party in Government sets the laws, conducts the elections, and Parliament itself sets the boundaries of constituencies all to their advantage,” he said.
The Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ) will today indicate whether the final count of candidates for the upcoming General Election who were appointed during yesterday’s Nomination Day exercise remains at the 150 announced initially. Shortly after the close of Nomination Day activities yesterday, the EOJ signalled that a total 150 candidates were nominated to contest the General Election scheduled for December 29. But speaking with the Observer yesterday, Director of Elections Orette Fisher said a final count would be done today.
“I want to point out, however, and it is very important, that the count we have given is very preliminary because I cannot give a final count until the nomination forms come in from all the constituencies and we are able to go through them,” the director of elections said.
Campaign director for the People’s National Party, Dr Peter Philips, says the opposition is pleased the Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ), has now received the full $350 million it requested to prepare for the next general election.
The confirmation came yesterday from senior government officials. The EOJ was given $200 million in October with a promise that the rest would be paid early this month. Dr. Phillips says the PNP is pleased that the money has reached the EOJ to continue its preparations for the impending elections.
The People’s National Party (PNP) says it is yet to receive a response from the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ), regarding the concerns it has raised about the readiness of Jamaica’s electoral systems for an election. On November 1, Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller wrote to chairman of the Electoral Commission of Jamaica, Professor Errol Miller, expressing concern about the readiness of the ECJ for an early election.
The Opposition leader said she was concerned because of reports she received from the party’s representatives on the ECJ regarding the Commission’s preparedness. She said she was particularly concerned as Prime Minister Andrew Holness appears to have put the country on the ready for an election.
Jamaica: Electoral Commission of Jamaica to get power to prescribe electoral boundaries | Jamaica Information Service
The House of Representatives has adopted a proposal to amend existing legislation to empower the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) to prescribe electoral division boundaries, and prohibit the publication of a new list of electors between nomination day and Election Day.
Piloting the proposals, which are contained in an ECJ report to Parliament, Leader of Government Business in the House, Hon. Andrew Holness, on June 7, explained that this would require amendments to the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation Act; the Parish Councils Act, and the Representation of the People’s Act.