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February 29? - PM expected to name the election date today

Published:Sunday | January 31, 2016 | 12:05 AMDaraine Luton
Portia Simpson Miller as she announced the date for the 2007 general election.

People's National Party (PNP) President Portia Simpson Miller heads to Half-Way Tree, St Andrew, this evening, knowing that on the only occasion she announced the date for the general election her party lost.

Then, Simpson Miller was seemingly obsessed with the number 7. The election date was announced for August 27 and nomination day was August 7.

"I am the seventh prime minister of Jamaica and Jamaica has seven national heroes, and so nomination day will be on the seventh of August," she said, a clear indication that she played into Prophet Dr Phillip Phinn's declaration of 'The Laws of the Sevens and the Seventh Prime Minister'.

The prime minister announced the election date at 10:37 p.m. The announcement was made on July 8, which was seven weeks away from the election day.

But Hurricane Dean intervened and the election date was shifted to September 3, 2007, and the PNP lost control of the House of Representatives for the first time since 1989.

That made Simpson Miller the first PNP president since Michael Manley in 1980 to have called an election and lost. This time around, the sevens are not expected to figure but the birthday of Edna Manley, the mother of Michael, February 29, could be a factor.

Last week, Dr Peter Phillips, the PNP's campaign director, said Simpson Miller's first call, which ended in a loss, is not playing on the minds of the campaign team as they head into today's big meeting where all 63 candidates will be presented.

"We are not superstitious at all. One day you travel to some place there is rain, another day you travel to the same place there is sun. It does not trouble us," said Phillips.

Desmond McKenzie, a deputy leader of the opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), used a meeting in Lionel Town, Clarendon, last Thursday to declare his party's readiness for the election, as he declared that they cannot wait for Simpson Miller to announce the election date.

"Labourites, I don't know how you feel but I feel bells ringing in my heart because I know (that) in just a matter of weeks, a matter of days, Jamaica will be free from bondage. Andrew Holness will lead the people of Jamaica out of the hands of Portia Simpson Miller and the People's National Party wicked Government," said McKenzie.




Mike Henry, the JLP campaign chairman, said the party is ready for Simpson Miller whenever she calls the election, as he supported McKenzie.

"I am going to be working non-stop for the next three weeks for the Jamaica Labour Party. I am going to send the team out, I am going to be on the road myself, I am going to fire it up, I am going to tell them what to do, I am going to show them what to do, I am going to show them when we talk politics, how we run it, how we mean it and how we going to return the Jamaica Labour Party to victory," said Henry.

But a confident Phillips said that the PNP will be leaving today's meeting with the wind in its sails and expects to hold the 42 seats it now has in Parliament.

"Based on all that I know, I would hope that we are increasing our majority," said Phillips.

For political historian Troy Caine, it is critical that Simpson Miller selects the right day to send the nation to the polls, as part of what makes a person a successful political leader is the ability to choose a good date for elections.

"Most of the Half-Way Tree meetings seem to have been successful for the callers," Caine said, while suggesting that the 2007 losing call by Simpson Miller may be an omen for her.

"She is a superstitious lady. Religious or otherwise, she seems very superstitious. If ever there is a reason why it is not called in Half-Way Tree today, it is that," said Caine, as he argued that Simpson Miller could become afraid to name the date today because of the ghost of 2007.