Fri | Apr 12, 2024

Claiming victory

Few municipalities undecided as parties share spoils; official count starts today

Published:Tuesday | February 27, 2024 | 3:09 AM
Jamaica Labour Party Leader Andrew Holness on arrival at the party’s Belmont Road, New Kingston headquarters last night.
Jamaica Labour Party Leader Andrew Holness on arrival at the party’s Belmont Road, New Kingston headquarters last night.
People’s National Party President Mark Golding addressing supporters at the party’s Old Hope Road, St Andrew headquarters last night.
People’s National Party President Mark Golding addressing supporters at the party’s Old Hope Road, St Andrew headquarters last night.
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It appears that the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) is on target to win the 2024 local government elections even though the results from the Electoral Office of Jamaica (EOJ) were inconclusive up to early this morning.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness, late last night, said that the JLP had won the “local government elections without question”.

“The Jamaica Labour Party owns seven municipal corporations, which is the majority of the municipalities,” he emphasised.

At the same time, however, Opposition Leader Mark Golding, the president of the People’s National Party (PNP), trumpeted that his party had secured the most divisions in the elections.

“This is a victory for the people of Jamaica, those who are tired of having poor road conditions, having to wait for a bed at the hospitals, and for those who cannot get their garbage collected,” Golding said as he addressed a massive crowd of supporters inside the party’s headquarters and out on Old Hope Road in St Andrew.

Golding dedicated the PNP’s showing to former prime ministers Michael Manley, P.J. Patterson, Portia Simpson Miller, as well former PNP President Dr Peter Phillips.

The preliminary voter turnout was 29.6 per cent of the electorate, which is marginally lower than the 30.06 per cent turnout in the 2016 local polls eight years ago.

Up to news time last night, the results from the EOJ showed the JLP leading in seven of the 14 municipal corporations, with preliminary results showing the PNP ahead in four municipalities.

Following last night’s preliminary count, the EOJ will carry out its final count to determine the results of the polls.

The PNP and the JLP are tied with 20 divisions each in the race to control the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC).

It appears that the PNP is on target to win the popular vote in the KSAMC as they were leading up to news time. If the PNP wins the popular vote, it would take control of the KSAMC.

The tussle for the KSAMC featured significant battles for the Papine and Trafalgar divisions, with both incumbents being political turncoats, having switched allegiance to the JLP.

Venesha Phillips, the turncoat politician who crossed over to the JLP, suffered defeat to the PNP’s Darrington Ferguson. Phillips lost the race by 259 votes as Ferguson secured 2,113 votes.

In 2016, Phillips won that division with 2,208 votes to 1,931 from the JLP’s George Planto. In yesterday’s polls, Planto secured 61 votes as an independent candidate.

Jesse Clarke of the PNP unseated Kari Douglas, a former PNP councillor who crossed the floor at the KSAMC to represent the JLP. Clarke represents the Trafalgar division at the KSAMC.

The PNP won the race for the mayoral seat in the Portmore Municipal Corporation. Incumbent Leon Thomas sprinted clear of political neophyte Markland Edwards.

In St Thomas, the 10 divisions appeared split between the JLP and PNP, with five divisions each. This means that the popular vote will again determine who is selected as the next mayor.

The JLP was projected to win in Seaforth, Trinityville, Yallahs, and Cedar Valley in St Thomas Western. The PNP won in White Horses, while there was a tie in Llandewey.

In St Andrew East, the PNP was projected to win three of the four divisions.

Meanwhile, chairperson of Citizens Action for Free and Fair Elections (CAFFE) Grace Baston told The Gleaner that 35 per cent of the group’s observers were barred by EOJ officials from viewing the counting of votes.

“So far, of the reports that have come in, 35 per cent of volunteers were put out of the polling stations at the time of the count, the officials saying their understanding is that they are not to be there,” Baston said.

Describing the action of EOJ officials as unacceptable, the CAFFE chairman argued that “in the case of a close election, it is important to have the impartial observer body there saying, ‘We were there. We witnessed the count, we witnessed voting at polling stations, and everything was fair and transparent”.

When quizzed about the actions of the EOJ, Director of Elections Glasspole Brown said CAFFE and the Electoral Commission have enjoyed a good relationship over the years.

“CAFFE was a little more proactive this time. We need to sit down with CAFFE again looking at the relationship going forward”.

He admitted that there were issues in relation to CAFFE observers going into the polling stations beyond a certain time.

Brown said the EOJ wants CAFFE to be part of the election process, noting that the electoral body will review what transpired with a view to addressing the concerns going forward.

editorial@gleanerjm.com

Preliminary Results

PARISH PROGRESSS JLP PNP

Kingston 100% 3 3

St Andrew 100% 17 17

St Thomas 94.8% 5 4

Portland 92.9% 6 3

St Mary 96.3% 7 6

St Ann 99.8% 11 5

Trelawny 96.5% 6 3

St James 99.0% 11 6

Hanover 100% 1 6

Westmoreland 99.0% 3 11

St Elizabeth 100% 9 6

Manchester 100% 3 12

Clarendon 99.5% 11 11

St Catherine 91.1% 18 23