En Contexto
Hoy 25 de febrero Jamaica celebra sus elecciones generales. Se escogerán los 65 escaños de la Cámara de Representantes y el líder de la agrupación política que obtenga más bancas será electo primer ministro para los próximos cinco años. Se presentan un total de 152 candidatos que pertenecen al gobernante Partido Popular Nacional de Jamaica (PNP), de los opositores Partido Laborista (JLP), Movimiento Nacional Democrático y Partido Político del Pueblo, además de algunos independientes.

Jamaica celebra este jueves elecciones parlamentarias

Los jamaiquinos votarán este jueves por 63 miembros de la Cámara de Representantes en medio de la disputa entre el gobernante del Partido Popular Nacional (PNP) y los partidos de oposición.

De esta jornada dependerá la continuidad de la actual administración o el regreso de legisladores del oficialista Partido Laborista (JLP), el movimiento Nacional Democrático o el Partido Político del Pueblo.

Más de 1,8 millones de electores fueron llamados a escoger a sus nuevas autoridades entre una nómina de 152 representantes.

El PNP de la primera ministra Portia Simpson-Miller y los laboristas del político Andrew Holness, protagonizan la contienda para ganar el mayor número de escaños.

Las encuestas recientes vaticinan la victoria del partido de Gobierno, mientras que otras indican que ganarán los laboristas.

Simpson-Miller intenta mantener el poder con un programa que promete miles de empleos permanentes, la gradual reducción de impuestos, incentivos para estimular la producción y la inversión extranjera, y medidas de seguridad más fuertes, señala Prensa Latina.

DATO >> La jefa de Gobierno jamaiquina es la primera mujer que ha llegado al poder en Jamaica y la tercera en todo el Caribe. Mary Eugenia Charles, de Dominica (1980-1995), y Janet Jagan, de Guyana (1997-1999). También se le considera la política más veterana de su país.

Las autoridaes impusieron varias restricciones públicas para garantizar la seguridad y tranquilidad del proceso, luego de los actos violentos que marcaron la campaña y dejaron al menos cinco muertos.

Una delegación de la Organización de Estados Americanos (OEA) llegó a Kinsgton para observar el proceso electoral junto con los de la Comunidad del Caribe (Caricom). En total serán 32 supervisores, 21 de la OEA y 11 de la Caricom.

“El rol de la misión será observar el proceso electoral, recopilar información sobre los resultados, supervisar y analizar las incidencias, además de colaborar en la preparación de un informe final sobre las elecciones generales de Jamaica”, detalla la Caricom en un comunicado.

Holness vuelve a retar a Simpsom-Miller por el control del Gobierno. El líder opositor busca convencer a la población de un plan sustentado de iniciativas económicas para impulsar el crecimiento y aumentar las inversiones extranjeras.

Simpsom-Miller y Holness se midieron en 2011 y el PNP dejó sin cabida a los laboristas en el poder tras ganar 42 de los 63 curules de la Cámara Baja.

Telesur

Jamaicans decide way forward in general election today

Political pundits, using recent opinion polls, believe the election will go down to the wire in the race for the 63 parliamentary seats. However, the two major political parties — the People’s National Party (PNP), which has campaigned under the slogan ‘Step Up the Progress’, and the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), which has promising voters to move them from ‘Poverty to Prosperity’ — were, up to last night, brimming with confidence that they will take home the election.

While people will go out to vote for their respective candidates, several say their vote will be for the leader of the parties, the PNP’s 70-year-old Portia Simpson Miller and Andrew Holness, the 43-year-old leader of the JLP.
Yesterday, there was a frenzy of activity at PNP headquarters on Old Hope Road and the JLP headquarters on Belmont Road, both in Kingston, as the parties made final preparations for today’s vote.

The PNP’s car park was full as workers and technocrats had last-minute discussions, including the placement of their ‘victory stage’, which will have a special entrance for the party president and prime minister, Simpson Miller. The media were also shown the areas from which they will operate, while a large screen will be placed near the stage area where supporters can follow the box-by-box count. That section of Old Hope Road will be blocked off to vehicular traffic.

While there were not as many vehicles inside the JLP’s car park, last-minute organisational work was being carried out. The party’s leadership and candidates, a spokesman said, were all out ‘in the field’ making sure they had everything properly organised. “There is a lot of work going on behind the scenes,” the spokesman said.

The JLP, which believes it put in all the work to convince voters to hand it the reins of power, was also setting up a victory, stage just before a huge green bell in the parking lot.

“The massive swing indicated by the polls is pointing to a JLP victory and we are very confident of victory,” said a JLP spokesman. He pointed out that the party is taking nothing for granted as it is a ‘two-horse’ race. The JLP is also hoping to have Belmont Road blocked off to vehicular traffic to accommodate supporters.

Despite the confidence by the two major political parties, and the poll numbers, the election will today come down to mobilisation on the ground, especially in the approximately 14 marginal seats, where the competition is expected to be tough.

Trinidadian-based political scientist Derek Ramsamooj on Monday told the Jamaica Observer that the crucial marginal seats were leaning to the JLP, saying 51.76 per cent of electors in these seats were leaning towards the Opposition party, compared to 48.24 per cent for the governing PNP.

There are 1,824,410 people on the voters’ list, which was released last November. The Electoral Office of Jamaica said 34,907 people were added to the list, while 3,536 names were removed.

Apart from the JLP and PNP, which will be fielding candidates in all 63 constituencies, the National Democratic Movement and the Marcus Garvey Political Party each have candidates in six constituencies, there are nine independents, two from the People’s Political Party, one from the recently formed United Independents’ Congress, and another from a party called Hope of Portland East formed on Nomination Day. It is not expected, however, that any of these small parties and independents will factor in this election, which is really a head-to-head battle between the PNP and JLP.

Polls open at 7:00 am and are scheduled to close at 5:00 pm, but traditionally most voters, especially those aligned to political parties, are known to flood polling stations early in the morning.

The campaign leading up to today’s election started late last year when the PNP put the nation on election alert. However, the party pulled back in what it said was its intention to give youngsters, whose names were appearing on the November 30, 2015-released voters’ list for the first time, an opportunity to vote. Prime Minister Simpson Miller also said at the time that she was awaiting a touch from her ‘master’.

But the PNP later confessed that it halted the campaign just before Christmas because there were some seats about which it had concerns.

The campaign resumed early in the new year, and in early February, shortly after an opinion poll showed the PNP ahead, the prime minister ‘sounded the trumpet’ and summoned her troops to Half-Way-Tree in St Andrew, where she announced the election date and set February 9 as Nomination Day.

Since then, the campaign has been very hectic and has been dominated by a 10-point plan presented by the JLP, which includes a commitment to relieve wage earners of up to $1.5 million of their income tax liability.

The PNP has spent a lot of time attacking the JLP’s tax plan, and had also focused on the house being built in Beverly Hills by Holness and his wife.

The PNP also pulled out of the national debates, which some voters have said they would have used to decide how to cast their votes, citing disagreement with the Opposition and calling for an apology.

The use or display of cameras, cellular phones or any other image-capturing device is banned inside polling stations, and people are being urged to turn off their cellular phones inside the polling stations.

In addition, voters must follow the instructions of the presiding officer in order for their ballot to be successfully cast.

Jamaica Observer

The work begins: Arrival Statement – CARICOM Election Observation Mission to Jamaica

The CARICOM Election Observation Mission mounted for Jamaica’s February 25 General Elections has hit the ground with meetings involving the country’s two major political parties – the ruling Peoples National Movement of Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller and the main opposition Jamaica Labour Party led by Andrew Holness. The Mission, in an Arrival Statement issued Tuesday, said it also plans to meet with other political parties, the Commissioner of Police, the Electoral Commission of Jamaica, the Chamber of Commerce, the media and civil society groups.

Chief of Mission, Ms. Josephine Tamai, Chief Elections Officer, Elections and Boundaries Department, Belize, is leading the eleven member team, which began arriving in Jamaica on 21 February.

The team will continue to observe the remainder of the pre-election period, and the polling process on Election Day including tabulation and processing of results.

fter observing the process on polling day, a Preliminary Statement will be issued outlining the Mission’s initial assessment of the process as observed. Thereafter, the Mission will collaborate in the preparation of a Final Report of the Observation Mission for submission to Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community.

Read the Mission’s full Arrival Statement:

ARRIVAL STATEMENT
CARICOM ELECTION OBSERVATION MISSION TO THE GENERAL ELECTIONS OF JAMAICA, 25 FEBRUARY 2016

In response to a letter dated 2 February 2016 from the Honourable Mrs. Dorothy Pine-McLarty OJ, Chairman of the Electoral Commission of Jamaica, to the Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, inviting CARICOM to field an Election Observation Mission, the Caribbean Community mounted an eleven-member Election Observation Mission to observe the General Elections of Jamaica on 25 February 2016.

The CEOM is headed by the Chief of Mission, Ms. Josephine Tamai, Chief Elections Officer, Elections and Boundaries Department, Belize.

The Mission includes persons with vast electoral experience that spans election administration and political representation, and includes the following Observers drawn from several Member States of the Caribbean Community –
Antigua and Barbuda – Mr. Anthonyson King;
The Bahamas – Mr. Sherlyn Hall;
Barbados – Ms. Roslyn Springer;
Dominica – Mr. Henry George;
Saint Lucia – Ms. Cynthia Combie Martyr;
St. Kitts and Nevis – Mr. Elvin Bailey;
St. Vincent and the Grenadines – H.E. Mr. Ellsworth John; and
Trinidad and Tobago – Ms. Pamela Ogiste.
The CEOM is supported by Ms. Nickeva Eve-Benjamin and Ms. Helen Marshall of the CARICOM Secretariat.

The role of the CEOM is to observe the electoral process, collect information on the results, collect qualitative observations, observe and assess the outcomes and collaborate in the preparation of a Final Report on the General Elections in Jamaica.

The Chief of Mission and staff of the CARICOM Secretariat arrived in Jamaica on 21 February 2016 while the remaining Observers arrived on 22 February 2016. Since arrival, meetings were held with the two major political parties. Over the next few days leading up to the Elections, meetings will be held with other political parties, the Commissioner of Police, the Electoral Commission of Jamaica and the Chamber of Commerce. Meetings will also be held with other stakeholders including the media and civil society groups in an effort to obtain an overview of the plans and strategies for the election process.

The team will continue to observe the remainder of the pre-election period, and the polling process on Election Day including tabulation and processing of results.

After observing the process on polling day, a Preliminary Statement will be issued outlining the Mission’s initial assessment of the process as observed. Thereafter, the Mission will collaborate in the preparation of a Final Report of the Observation Mission for submission to H.E. Ambassador Irwin LaRocque, Secretary-General of the Caribbean Community.

The CEOM looks forward to the opportunity to support and strengthen the process of democracy in Jamaica.

JOSEPHINE TAMAI

CHIEF OF MISSION

23 FEBRUARY 2016

Caricom Today

SHOWDOWN! Candidates hours away from finish line

After an eventful political campaign that intensified over the last two weeks, an epic electoral contest looms large today on the country’s colourful political landscape.

As the Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ) pronounced its readiness, the much-anticipated showdown between the People’s National Party (PNP) and the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) is rushing to its climax.

With both major parties in a statistical dead heat, anticipation is high as Jamaicans head to voting booths across the island.
JLP leader Andrew Holness is hoping to upstage PNP President Portia Simpson Miller, who turned back his challenge four years ago.

Of the 152 candidates nominated in the 63 constituencies across the island, 126 are standard-bearers of the island’s two major political parties. The PNP and JLP have each fielded 63 candidates, while the remaining 26 candidates are either representing the National Democratic Movement or are independents.

Recent polls have telegraphed that the JLP has been bearing down on the PNP in what is expected to be a supreme dash to the finish line.

The Gleaner-commissioned Bill Johnson polls have shown that the JLP is making inroads on the PNP, with several marginal seats being held by the PNP moving in the direction of the JLP.

Such is the level of confidence from Old Hope and Belmont roads that senior functionaries on both sides of the political divide are already claiming victory.

“We have fine-tuned and fine-tuned and fine-tuned and [we are] ready, raring and wanting to go,” declared PNP General Secretary Paul Burke.

“From where we are, everything is in place,” he told The Gleaner.

Although the result of Monday’s votes by police, soldiers and election-day workers are yet to be released, Burke is already counting the ballots in the PNP’s favour and he is adamant that he is not premature.

“We are very, very confident and we are very pleased by the result of the voting by police and election-day workers,” insisted Burke. “We are very pleased with how they came and support the People’s National Party.”

Confidence has also been spewing from the rival party.

“We are doing exceptionally and will win the election,” declared Holness.

“If you, for just a moment, step back and think what was being said about our chances nine months ago, to what is being said now, we have, within that period, come a long way,” he asserted.

ON THE ALERT

Both parties have served notice that they are on the lookout for electoral shenanigans designed to mar election-day activities.
Burke told The Gleaner that indoor and outdoor agents representing the PNP have been alerted.

“We have warned our workers to look out for fraudulent identification cards and they will be vigilant,” he said.

JLP functionaries have also chorused soundings about the likelihood of underhanded tactics.

The PNP has rebutted com-plaints to Political Ombudsman Donna Parchment Brown, Police Commissioner Dr Carl Williams, and the Electoral Commission of Jamaica Chairman Dorothy Pine-McLarty by JLP campaign spokesperson Kamina Johnson Smith.
“The Jamaica Labour Party’s accusations that the PNP is planning to disrupt the elections scheduled for February 25 are disingenuous and mischievous,” said PNP campaign spokes-person Delano Franklyn.

Jamaica Gleaner