Prime Minister Andrew Holness had scheduled new elections for Sept. 3, 2020. The premature dissolution of parliament - the legislative period actually runs until February 26, 2021 - should secure a second term in office. The background to this is the current good survey results for the government, which are primarily due to the successful fight against the corona pandemic.
This step is part of the British parliamentary system adopted by Jamaica and has been used by all political parties in the past. The 63 members of the House of Representatives were elected. The conservative ruling Jamaica Labor Party (JLP) was able to significantly increase its majority by 17 seats compared to the opposition People’s National Party (PNP). The voter turnout was the lowest ever at 37.3 percent. [Source: Wikipedia]
With this, PM Holness has achieved its goal of having a greater head start on seats in Parliament. In the last election, this lead was surprisingly small:
16. Seats in the election after the introduction of universal suffrage in 1944,
11. Seats in the election after independence in 1968
1 seat in 2016: JLP (23.9%) 32 seats, PNP (23.8%) 31 seats, voter turnout 42%
The astonishingly low turnout in February 2016 led to great difficulties for election researchers. In the election on September 3, participation fell further. There is much debate in Jamaica about the reasons for the low turnout. The arguments range from the small differences between the government work of the two major parties to the decades of unsolved problems of high crime and the continuing economic and social difficulties of large sections of the population. The ruling JLP, like its predecessors from the PNP, has in recent years managed to keep Jamaica's position in the "Small Vulnerable Economies" (as the World Bank is called) fairly stable.
14,5 Mrd. US $
14,4 Mrd. US $
National product per capita
4.986 US $
5.460 US $
8% (gerundete Werte)
All in all, there was little reason to change the mood in the upcoming elections. The question remains about the leaders of the two parties. Andrew Holness, 48 years old, has higher approval ratings among the younger population than his opponent, 71-year-old Peter Phillips. Phillips, a veteran PNP politician, has been a successful minister in various areas since the 1990s. The two parties worked out their different positions in the short election campaign - fundamental changes in government work are not to be expected from either camp after the election, or economic constraints will not allow this at all.
Dealing with the corona pandemic remains a key plus point for the ruling JLP. Only a few days after the disease became known, access to the island was drastically restricted. Tourism was stopped and local residents had to be quarantined. With 1,192 infected people, 772 recovered and 14 dead, Jamaica is in an incomparably good position on the American continent (as of September 2020). However, the economic consequences of the pandemic are grave for the island. Income from tourism (2019: US $ 3.7 billion) will be almost entirely missing in 2020. But transfers from Jamaicans living abroad also collapsed (2019: US $ 2.4 billion). The decline in income from bauxite exports - in 2017 this was at least 121 million US $ - due to the restrictions caused by the pandemic is not yet foreseeable. Experts anticipate a three-year recovery phase for the Jamaican economy.
For the voters, however, these are likely to be tomorrow's problems. The high unemployment and the increasing cost of living are likely to have been more important for the voting decisions. In the Gleaner e.g. complains that a simple lunch that was $ 350J at the beginning of the year is now available for $ 450J. (1 J $ = 0.0056 Euros, 450 J $ would be 2.5 Euros or 3 US $).
For Andrew Holness, despite these far from simple future prospects, the early election date has clearly paid off. The increase in the JLP's seats in Parliament at the expense of the PNP speaks for itself.