Jamaica’s ruling party was on Thursday re-elected in a landslide win marked by low turnout, prompting Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness to vow to work on restoring voters’ trust in politics and continue fighting the country’s COVID-19 outbreak.
The center-right Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), which won praise for its stewardship of the economy, won 49 of 63 seats, an addition of 16 seats, an early count released at about 9pm by the Jamaican Electoral Office showed.
“There is cause for celebration, but there is also significant cause for consideration,” Holness said in a subdued televised speech late on Thursday. “There are many Jamaicans who did not participate. There are many Jamaicans, who for fear of the virus, did not come to the polls, but for other reasons, apathy, frustrations, decided not to participate.”
The opposition People’s National Party (PNP) leader, Peter Phillips, appeared to have retained his seat, but earlier declared that he would step down and retire from politics if his party lost.
Even former PNP Jamaican prime minister Michael Manley’s stronghold seat fell to the JLP, surprising observers.
The JLP captured the polls in 2016 with a one-seat margin, winning just 32 seats out of 63, then gaining one more seat in November 2017.
“The PNP are barely holding on in traditionally safe territory. This election represents a massive realignment of Jamaica’s political landscape, albeit with lower than expected voter turnout,” political analyst Ricardo Brooks said.
In the run-up to the election, Holness credited his administration’s tax cuts and other reforms with bringing down unemployment to an all-time low and sharply reducing poverty.
He also highlighted the construction of affordable housing and new roads.
Analysts have said that the previous PNP-led government’s implementation of IMF-mandated austerity measures, which reduced debt and inflation, also paved the path toward growth.
However, the pandemic has sent Jamaica, like the rest of the heavily tourism-reliant Caribbean, reeling.
The Bank of Jamaica last week forecast that the economy would contract 7 to 10 percent this year.
Analysts have said that the prime minister likely called the election six months before it was constitutionally mandated to get ahead of a recession due to COVID-19.
With the slogan “Build Back Stronger,” the JLP outlined a 10-point plan, including a US$98 million package of loans and grants for agriculture and small businesses, and unemployment insurance.
Holness called the elections on Aug. 11, when authorities appeared to have successfully contained the coronavirus outbreak in the nation of about 3 million people.
Polling stations on Thursday were worked by police officers, volunteers and electoral workers, who took temperatures and directed people to sanitization stations.
For the most part, voters wore masks or face shields and appeared to adhere to social distancing, although lines were tightly packed at some polling stations.
Voters who are confirmed COVID-positive were allocated a time slot between 4pm and 5pm to cast their ballot.
‘SPIKES’: Rudy Giuliani at a hearing asked about voting data in Pennsylvania, with a witness saying that 570,000 votes they selected were for Biden and 3,200 for Trump US president-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday said that Americans “won’t stand” for attempts to derail the US election outcome, as US President Donald Trump called for results to be overturned. Biden said in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, that Americans “have full and fair and free elections, and then we honor the results.” “The people of this nation and the laws of the land won’t stand for anything else,” he said. However, Trump is challenging the results, with lawsuits under way in several states. “We have to turn the election over,” he told a hearing in Pennsylvania. “This election was rigged.” “All we need is
Hundreds of flights at one of China’s busiest airports were canceled yesterday as Shanghai raced to bring a local COVID-19 outbreak under control. Health officials have tested thousands of staff at Pudong International Airport since a small cluster of COVID-19 cases in the city was linked to several cargo handlers. China — where the virus first emerged late last year — has largely brought the COVID-19 pandemic under control through travel restrictions and lockdowns, but it is now battling a number of domestic outbreaks in different cities. Shanghai has reported seven local infections linked to the airport this month, with most cases found
For thousands of years, the dainty Fritillaria delavayi has grown slowly on the rocky slopes of the Hengduan mountains in China, producing a bright green flower after its fifth year. The conspicuous small plant has one deadly enemy: people, who harvest the flower for traditional Chinese medicine. As commercial harvesting has intensified, Fritillaria delavayi has vanished — by rapidly evolving to produce gray and brown leaves and flowers that cannot be so easily seen by pickers. Scientists have discovered that the color of the plant’s leaves has become more camouflaged — matching the background rocks on which they grow — in areas where
‘OCEAN OF STORMS’: The Chang’e 5 seeks to collect about 5kg of samples from a previously unvisited area in a massive lava plain, known as Oceanus Procellarum China plans to launch an uncrewed spacecraft to the moon this week to bring back lunar rocks in the first attempt by any nation to retrieve samples from Earth’s natural satellite since the 1970s. The Chang’e 5 probe, named after the ancient Chinese goddess of the moon, would seek to collect material that could help scientists understand the moon’s origins and formation. The mission would test China’s ability to remotely acquire samples from space, ahead of more complex missions. If successful, the mission will make China only the third country to have retrieved lunar samples, following the US and the Soviet Union decades