Home » News
supporters march in the streets of Old Harbour, St. Catherine,
on Nomination Day, last Friday. - Norman Grindley/Staff Photographer.
Walker, Staff Reporter
LOCAL Govern-ment elections less than three weeks away, the
two major political parties, the People's National Party (PNP)
and the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) are sparing nothing in
their preparations for the polls.
both aim at victory and a mandate.
JLP, starved of political glory for years, is using this election
as a signal to the PNP. However, the PNP is firm on not breaking
its current track record. In a recent address to the party's
National Executive Council, Prime Minister P.J. Patterson
was adamant "We must win the Local Govern-ment
for business leaders, the focus has to be beyond the poll
and getting the country back on track.
to Beverley Lopez, head of the Private Sector Organisation
of Jamaica (PSOJ), this election is important to both parties,
"but it seems to have taken on a much greater level of
importance for the Opposition as they have put it forward
to the Jamaican public as almost a general election so they
have a lot more of their fortune riding on this election."
Frankson, new president of the Jamaica Manufac-turers Association
(JMA), says that Local Government elections are obviously
important for community representation but stresses the need
for a peaceful poll.
manufacturers our focus is firmly on securing the best possible
environment to enable us to get on with the business of production
in what is a very challenging period for the country,"
usual business must go on, said Mrs. Lopez, and she "just
wants to see it (the election) out of the way so we can settle
down to our agenda to Jamaica."
the first Local Government elections in 1947 the PNP has dominated
the election scene having won nine of the 13 times the polls
to the JLP General Secretary, Dr. Ken Baugh, the voters want
to send a strong message to the Government.
feel that this election which is about seven months after
the general elections will be a referendum on the performance
of the Government, considering that so much has been revealed
that previously was hidden," Dr. Baugh said.
General Secretary, Maxine Henry-Wilson, says the JLP can use
this election for anything that they want, but her party is
seeing it as Local Government elections to elect councillors
to the system.
Henry-Wilson was firm in her response. "If the JLP wants
to use it as another political platform, I can't prevent that.
They have to use it like that because they don't have anything
to tell the people, given their extremely dark history in
Local Government elections. In the absence of any platform
they have to clutch at a straw," she said.
a recent Don Anderson poll, Jamaicans have made it clear that
the upcoming election is to be taken seriously.
25 per cent of those intended to vote, say they will be casting
their ballots for the JLP compared to just under 20 per cent
who say they will vote for the PNP.
this holds true to form, then there is likely to be a shift
in this balance of power between the major political parties.
56 per cent interviewed are either undecided or unsure of
which party to vote for.
JLP feels that the tax increases and political scandal surrounding
the PNP have pushed the polls in its favour.
are heavy new taxes, serious devaluations, massive increase
in prices, all as a consequence of very bad Government policies
which favoured winning elections but were not in the interest
of the people generally. Because of that, we think that these
are very serious issues for the Parish Council elections,
although they are national issues," Dr. Baugh argues.
the PNP says as usual, the JLP has no solutions to any of
the country's problems.
know what we are going to the people for and we are not pretending
that there are no problems," said Mrs. Henry-Wilson.
"They (JLP) have not presented any platform, we have.
We have presented to the people, where we need to go to solve
also explained how important it is to win this election as
"we have been the strongest advocates of a local governance
system. We believe the structures and the functioning to be
critical to the involvement of persons in how they govern
themselves. It also provides for communities to really have
a say in what is going on. We have introduced certain critical
reforms and therefore these elections are important from these
to the JLP as far as the Local Government elections are concerned,
"We are in full support of the further democratisation
process, whereas municipalities will add another dimension
to bringing people closer, so that they have a closer participation
in local government affairs.
so many taxes that were postponed until this time, and the
decisions that were taken up to the run-up to the general
election, are now having serious implications on the quality
of life and the standard of living of the people. All these
have been affected in a very negative way. We are sending
a message to the Government." said Dr. Baugh.