Portia promises happy Easter ... - PM expected to announce election date at Half-Way Tree meeting Sunday
Having confirmed on Tuesday that she had been "touched" by her Master, People's National Party (PNP) president Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller has hinted that Jamaicans will be going to the polls by Easter, promising one of the happiest holidays ever. This undertaking comes days ahead of Sunday's Half-Way Tree public meeting where the general election is expected to be announced.
The PNP president, who will celebrate 10 years at the helm of the party on February 25, said she was waiting for the Master's touch to call the election for which the country was put on alert in the latter half of 2015 by the party's national campaign director, Dr Peter Phillips - a former leadership rival, turned finance minister in her administration.
GIFTS IN FEBRUARY
Simpson Miller in an interview with The Gleaner yesterday was in a generous mood, promising that February will come with lots of gifts. "You may have one of the best Easters you have ever had. I am touched. You see how Shaw (Audley) provoked me in Parliament and you see what happened? You will have a lot of love in February. Pure unadulterated love," said Simpson Miller.
Among the "gifts" singled out were February 25 - the 10th anniversary of her rise to the presidency of the PNP; February 26 - the birthday of PNP chairman Robert Pickersgill; February 28 - the birthday of A.J. Nicholson, foreign affairs minister; February 29 - the 34th anniversary of the PNP's 1972 election win and the birthday of Edna Manley, whose son, Michael, swept to power in 1972. Should Simpson Miller announce elections this Sunday, both Nomination Day and Election Day can be over in February, inclusive of Ash Wednesday (public holiday) and which has 29 days in 2016.
With the PNP known for its reliance on anniversaries which have meaning for the party, if the election is not held in February, there is speculation that it could be close to March 30. In 1993, Jamaicans went to the polls on Tuesday, March 30, which kept the PNP in power and gave P.J. Patterson his first mandate. Patterson would go on to win three consecutive electoral terms.
The election was held during the Christian-observed period of Lent. With February 10 beginning that period, it is widely expected that the election will again be held during the Lenten period.
The Representation of the People Act - which provides the guidelines for the calling of elections - mandates that Nomination Day shall be at least five clear days after the announcement of an election. The law also provides for Election Day to be at least 16 days or not more than 23 days after Nomination Day.
The general election is due in December, but may be delayed for three months, to be held no later than March 2017. However, Simpson Miller told members of the PNP that they should expect to "do the reaping early in the New Year". On Sunday, January 25, the PNP published its full slate of 63 candidates and held a high-level campaign meeting in St Ann. According to Simpson Miller, the published candidates are those representing the party in the election.