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”.
“We will grow the Jamaican economy. We will create jobs. We will give you an accountable and responsive government,” said Holness, 43, adding that his government would address a laundry list of issues from water to housing and healthcare. “Our mission is to move Jamaica from poverty to prosperity,” he said as supporters rang bells, a party symbol.
Simpson-Miller conceded defeat to a crowd of somber voters.
Holness, who is likely to be the Caribbean nation’s next prime minister, has promised to create 250,000 jobs on the island of 2.7 million people and do away with income tax for many wage earners, a move critics say will tear into the budget.