'Insignificant net gain for JLP'
DESPITE WINNING Monday's by-election in Central Westmoreland, the People's National Party (PNP) experienced a 590 reduction in its votes when compared to the 2011 general election, but Troy Caine, a political commentator, said in the scheme of things, that is an insignificant number.
"It is a strong seat for them and that kind of loss they can bear," Caine said.
Dwayne Vaz of the PNP won the election over the Jamaica Labour Party's (JLP) Faye Reid Jacobs by 2,452 votes. His margin was lower than the 3,042 recorded by the late Roger Clarke over Marlene Malahoo Forte in 2011.
Vaz, however, felt he has done better than Clarke when the numbers are crunched.
"We always dream big, we wanted it to be as big as the last time. But if you think about it, in the context of a by-election, if you think about the percentage of people that voted - in 2011, the margin was 3,042 with a 53.8 per cent voter turnout. This was a 38.2 per cent voter turnout and we have a majority of 2,452, so it is actually bigger in that context," Vaz told The Gleaner.
Caine yesterday said in spite of the low turnout, "it is an impressive win" for the PNP, adding that "Young Vaz has ended up a little better than Roger with a lower turnout".
Caine noted that Vaz's 8,720 votes represented 58 per cent of votes counted, which is higher that Clarke's 57.2 per cent. He also said with Reid Jacobs getting 41.7 per cent of the votes, less than Malahoo Forte's 42.2 per cent, the JLP has lost significant ground.
"The JLP has dropped half a point, and in politics it is a whole heap," Caine said.
Based on preliminary results prepared by the Electoral Office of Jamaica, the PNP, through Vaz, dropped 2,844 votes in the constituency. Monday's 8,720 total is compared to Clarke's 11,564 in 2011.
In the case of the JLP, the party lost 2,254 votes since 2011.
Meanwhile, the preliminary results indicate that Vaz won the Petersfield division by 600 votes, nearly twice as much as Clarke's 312 attempt in 2011.
In Frome, Vaz polled 215 votes more than Reid Jacobs, which is fewer than the 395 margin Clarke polled in the division in 2011.
In Savanna-la-Mar North, Vaz got 904 more votes than Reid Jacobs, but his margin was 339 fewer than Clarke's 2011 showing. And in the Cornwall Mountain division, Vaz polled 195 fewer votes than Clarke did.
Arguing that his margin is a rousing endorsement of the PNP, Vaz has promised to stay close to his constituents.
"I will be here with the people, I am here to serve them and I will be working with them to achieve what we want for Central Westmoreland," Vaz said.