It is election season in the Caribbean! Just a few weeks ago both Guyana and St. Lucia went to the polls, the first time two countries in the Caribbean held elections on the same day. Here in Barbados our elections are not constitutionally due until January 2013, although the Prime Minister can call elections any time before that. Tomorrow (December 29th), it is Jamaica’s turn.
Like most Commonwealth Caribbean countries, Jamaica has a two-party system: the incumbent Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) led by the current Prime Minister, Mr. Andrew Holness, and the Opposition, the People’s National Party, led by former Prime Minister, Mrs. Portia Simpson-Miller. This election brings some interesting dynamics. The 39-year old Mr. Holness, who formerly served as that country’s Minister of Education, is not only the youngest person to ever lead Jamaica, but he only took office in October of this year after the sudden resignation of then Prime Minister, Mr. Bruce Golding. This election also comes on the heels of the election in St Lucia in which the Stephenson King-led United Workers’ Party government was voted out of office in favour of the return of the St Lucia Labour Party, led by former (and now current) Prime Minister, Mr. Kenny Anthony.
From their rhetoric, both the JLP and PNP appear confident of a victory for their respective side in tomorrow’s polls. Although the Gleaner political team has predicted that the incumbent JLP will win 34 of the 63 seats, many argue that the polls are too close to predict a winner.
Elections are always a big thing in the Caribbean, but in these current economic times they take on even greater importance. Whichever party comes to power will have to find a way of dealing with that country’s rising unemployment and sluggish economic growth. What we Caribbean people want from our leaders is not rhetoric or empty promises, but solutions to pull our economies out of the doldrums and set us on a path to development and prosperity for all.
Here’s wishing all Jamaicans a peaceful and productive elections process tomorrow and may the better party win!
Alicia Nicholls is a trade policy analyst and law student at the University of the West Indies. You can follow her on Twitter at @licylaw or email her.
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