Jamaicans vote on Feb. 26 in local government elections for representatives for more than a dozen parishes in what is clearly being seen as a referendum on the administration Prime Minister Andrew Holness and the governing Jamaica Labor Party (JLP) with predictions that whichever party wins this one will form the next government in general elections next year.
The JLP and the main opposition People’s National Party (PNP) will hand in names and details of nominated candidates on Thursday as campaigning heats up and as the PNP hopes that a good showing will red carpet its efforts to return to government after a sound 49-14 defeat in the 2020 general elections.
“This election is the most important and consequential local government election since 1986,” senior PNP organizer Julian Robinson told a delegate’s conference at the weekend. “This election is a serious election,” as candidates and party workers fan out across the country. The PNP is still licking its wounds from the thrashing it received in 2020 as the leadership harks back to a similar situation in the late 80s when the party was down and out but was able to revive itself by wining most of the parishes in the local government polls, setting the stage for it to return to government three years later.
He suggested that the party’s crushing 14-49 defeat in the 2020 general election, presents a somewhat similar ordeal will end with a similar silver lining three weeks from now when the municipal polls are swept and the way is cleared for a return to power next year. The PNP had been wracked by a series of bitter and public leadership spats that had undermined voter confidence in it, leading to a JLP landslide.
Now Party Leader Mark Golding says that the PNP is happy that the twice postponed polls are being held as Jamaicans are tired of corruption in government.
“We’re very happy now that the time has come. The gate has been flown and we are ready to take them on. I say to all of our supporters, get ready, saddle up because we’re going to show the JLP government that time come for a new government – first with the local and then after with the general. The people of Jamaica want change. They want integrity in public life.”
Getting ready for the contest, the electoral commission has said that it has trained more than 30,000 people to administer the polls.
Meanwhile, PM Holness is also happy that the contest is finally about to be held.
“When the people of Jamaica see me and hear me and touch me and feel me, they know I am real. I am from them. I am like them. I went through their struggles. I understand their struggles, and I am true to them. I am your child, I am your son, I am your brother, I am your uncle, and I could be your father. You are my family. I know what it is like to not have lunch money, but nobody in the world would know because I was poor but proud. So, we’re very pleased that a date has finally been called and we’re raring to go, and we look forward to a clean election [and] abiding by the rules. I will say to all of our supporters, ‘Campaign hard but campaign fair and don’t do anything to bring your party’s name into any kind of disrepute,” said Golding.