Sun | Sep 24, 2017

Window closing for December election

Published:Friday | November 6, 2015 | 11:00 AMDaraine Luton

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller will be given a free hand "within days" to call an early general election, says Dr Peter Phillips, the campaign director for the Governing People's National Party (PNP).

"I would say we are 95 per cent ready," Phillips told The Gleaner yesterday, while adding that it would take "days" to get the remaining constituencies fully geared up.

Members of the Government have been hinting that an election could be called by year end - one year before it is constitutionally due.

Paul Burke, PNP general secretary, has said the party "will not be holding any elections in the Christmas period".

Under the Constitution, the prerogative of calling a general election rests with the prime minister.

Phillips told The Gleaner yesterday that he has "no expectation, one way or the other" for an early general election, but that the party is almost fully ready to go to the polls.

"I am getting my constituency ready, and I am getting all the constituencies ready, so that when the prime minister chooses to exercise her constitutional right, the PNP would be ready," Phillips said.

 

ANNOUNCEMENT SPECULATIONS

 

With the PNP heading to Brown's Town, St Ann, on Sunday for a mass rally, the third in three weeks, speculation is rife that Simpson Miller may head to the Corporate Area shortly thereafter, to announce an election.

Having declared there would be no Christmas election, Burke said the 1997 election, which was called by former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson was "very close" to the Christmas period.

If Simpson Miller is to go to the polls this year, without interfering with the 12 days of Christmas, her last available date might be Wednesday, December 16.

However, in order to have an election on Wednesday, December 16, the election would have to be announced by latest Wednesday, November 25 or earliest Wednesday, November 18.

The Representation of the People Act, which provides the guidelines for the calling of an election, mandates that Nomination Day shall be at least five clear days after the announcement of an election.

The law also provides for the Election Day to be at least 16 days or not more than 23 days after nomination day.

Burke yesterday said no Corporate Area meeting has yet been planned. He said, too, that the party sets its date on a week-by-week basis based on analysis.

"I know absolutely nothing about any Nomination Day date," Burke said, when asked whether the window for calling a general election this year is closing. He said the party has all its candidates in place and expects to be returned to power after the election.

daraine.luton@gleanerjm.com