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.”
Simpson Miller also asked public servants to ensure the protection of Government property, and added: “Today, the Jamaica people assisted us to rescue Jamaica and to restore the power. You will hear from us soon, as we move to put our team in place to take charge of the Government.”
The dramatic swing to the PNP, which emerged as early as 8:00 last night, returns the 66-year-old Simpson Miller to the prime minister’s chair, four years after she failed in her first bid to get her own mandate from the electorate after taking over from P J Patterson, who retired in March 2006.
It also resulted in Holness, the 39-year-old JLP leader, serving as prime minister for a mere two months, having been sworn in on October 23 after Bruce Golding stepped down. But probably the hottest sting in the defeat for the JLP is that it made the party the first one-term Government since Independence.
The election was marked by long waits at polling stations, glitches in the operation of the electronic voter identification system, and a low voter turnout. But overall voting went smoothly islandwide.