Jamaican municipal elections clarified

PNP Leader and attorney Mark Golding.
Photo by JamPNP – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Despite issuing official results in last week’s local government elections, both of the main parties in Jamaica are nevertheless claiming victory even as the results of some divisions will likely be challenged in court.

The electoral office of Jamaica (EOJ) completed tabulating its results at the weekend announcing that the governing Jamaica Labor Party (JLP) had won a majority of seats in seven parishes — St. Thomas, Portland, St. Ann, Trelawny, St. James, St. Elizabeth, and Clarendon.

The main opposition People’s National Party (PNP) of attorney Mark Golding was awarded control of five parishes — St. Mary, Hanover, Westmoreland, Manchester, and St. Catherine. Two other areas, Kingston-St. Andrew were declared as a tie as both parties picked up control of 20 divisions apiece.

But the two main rivals are claiming victory for various reasons.

The PNP, for example, says the results of the Feb. 26 elections showed that it had bounced back from the 49-14 thrashing it had received in the 2020 general elections when it was beset by a series of publicly embarrassing leadership fights that had dented voter confidence in the party.

But General Secretary Dayton Campbell told reporters that the PNP had won the long delayed local government polls that were delayed mainly by the COVID pandemic. “The time has come for brief celebration and for us to quickly return our focus to serving the people of Jamaica. The PNP emerged as the frontrunner by winning more divisions across Jamaica, securing 115 out of 228 divisions, up from 98 in 2016, demonstrating the broad and diverse support for the party across the nation. In contrast, the JLP experienced a reduction in its majority, losing the municipalities of Kingston-St. Andrew and St. Mary, along with 17 divisions they controlled going into the elections,” Campbell said, justifying the party’s narrative that it is the winner.

For his part, PM Andrew Holness argues to the contrary and says whatever the results may be, the JLP will win another term in the general election scheduled for next year.

“The people of Jamaica maintain confidence in the government of the JLP. Clearly, if this were a general election, the Jamaica Labor Party would still be the government of Jamaica.”

The Gleaner newspaper is also reporting that the JLP is preparing to legally challenge the recount in Kingston and in parts of St. Andrew because the final counts were so close between rival candidates.