NEWS AMERICAS, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Sept. 14, 2020: Yet another Caribbean country is going to the polls despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness called for early elections late on Tuesday, joining Guyana, Suriname, St. Kitts & Nevis, Anguilla and Trinidad and Tobago, which have all held elections this year in the pandemic.
In a speech to parliament, Holness of the Jamaica Labor Party, (JLP), said: “I now see it necessary to seek another mandate from the people of Jamaica,” as he dissolved parliament and called for the elections to be held on Sept. 3rd, six months ahead of schedule.
Reuters’ Kate Chappell cited analysts as terming the call “a bid to capitalize on voters’ satisfaction with his handling of the economy and coronavirus pandemic before the situation darkened.”
The PM is hoping to gain seats on the backs of a weak People’s National Party (PNP), which is trailing in the polls. The Jamaica Labour Party’s slogan is “Recovering Stronger” and comes as the prime minister is facing criticism over a spike in coronavirus cases since the borders reopened to international travelers in June.
Holness became Jamaica’s youngest prime minister at 39 in 2011, but governed for only 74 days before being defeated by the PNP’s Portia Simpson Miller. The Holness-led administration, under the Jamaica Labour Party, then captured the polls in 2016 with a slim margin of 32 seats out of 63. They gained one seat in November 2017, bringing their current total to 33 seats.
Since the pandemic, only three Caribbean incumbents have managed to retain power in recent elections. Trinidad and Tobago’s election is in a recount phase.
(Reuters contributed to this story)