Jamaica goes to the polls today in its 18th general election, as the incumbent Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) jostles with traditional rival People’s National Party (PNP) to retain its power in the 63-seat parliament.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness has called for a renewal of his government’s mandate, as Jamaica’s state of emergency may be lifted following confidence in its COVID-19 recovery efforts and rebounding economy. However, due to a recent uptick in infection cases, the parties have eschewed traditional rallies in favour of digital campaign alternatives.
Party representatives have clashed over a myriad of issues spanning the pandemic response, education and crime. The PNP has fielded a slate of younger, erudite candidates championing progressive issues and who have spotlighted the PNP’s historical role in expediting recovery during crises. The JLP, on the other hand, has capitalised on its effective and WHO-endorsed COVID-19 response as well as veteran candidates to assure the electorate of its commitment to security and recovery.
While the PNP ran an efficient campaign, it appears to suffer from deep schisms on the timing of elections and the role of the British monarchy in state affairs. This lack of unified vision is likely to cost them crucial votes in the face of an unwavering JLP, which has ridden popular support throughout the crisis months.