Jamaicans go to the polls
KINGSTON – Jamaicans were voting Thursday for a new government that opinion polls suggest could be a tight race between the incumbent People’s National Party (PNP) and the main opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).
Bright sunshine greeted voters in this northern Caribbean Community (CARICOM) country where an estimated 1.8 million people are eligible to cast ballots.
After she cast her ballot in the South St Andrew constituency, Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller said that she was very confident of victory. “If I lose, what type of question you asking me,” she told reporters, adding “Do I look like a loser”.
She also dismissed suggestions that the polls would be close, saying “I don’t know that it is a close election. I know the seats I am going to win”.
Opposition Leader Andrew Holness is also confident of victory and told reporters “the real test …is to grow the economy.
“We have been pushing this message of economic growth and job creation we know how to do it, we are the party of economic growth, we have done it before and we will do it again.”
The Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ) said 152 candidates have been nominated to contest the 63 seats in the Parliament. In the last general election in 2011, the PNP headed by Portia Simpson Miller won 42 seats as against 21 for the JLP headed by Andre Holness.
There has been a high police presence particularly in the volatile areas of Kingston following the violence that marred the end of the campaign on Tuesday night.
In Kingston Central supporters clad in the colours of their respective parties, were in celebratory mood even before the polls had opened with some blatantly saying it was “time for a change” and some insisting that “this is Portia stronghold”.
The EOJ said that the near 4 000 polling stations will remain open until 5 p.m. (local time) with first set of preliminary results expected three hours later.
The elections are being monitored by teams from the Organisation of American States and the Caribbean Community. (CMC)