Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Robertson reigns ... JLP candidate retains St Thomas Western with 457-vote majority

Published:Monday | February 29, 2016 | 2:06 PM
The JLP's James Robertson (left) with the PNP's John Junor at the Electoral Office of Jamaica Headquarters in Kingston

Andrew Holness’ Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) clung on to its razor-thin majority and its hold on the next government as the St Thomas Western constituency remained in the green column in a nail-biting finish to Monday night’s final recount at the Electoral Office of Jamaica's headquarters at Duke Street, Kingston.

The JLP’s James Robertson has overcome Marsha Francis of the People’s National Party (PNP) by 457 votes, JLP legal adviser Tom Tavares-Finson told The Gleaner Monday night. 

In the preliminary count last Thursday, Robertson had tallied 9,590 votes to Francis’ 9,209, a difference of 381.

Monday night's news brought a climax to a stop-start election campaign that dragged on for nearly six months.

The weekend had been laced with anxiety for party officials and supporters, with political observers casting doubt on the viability of a government with the smallest majority in Jamaican history.

The narrow 32-31 majority could be a legislative nightmare for the Holness administration, with key constitutional overhauls requiring two-thirds majorities.

The JLP had preliminarily won the vote 33-30 on election night, February 25, but a routine recount saw the balance shifted on Saturday night with the PNP’s Winston Green reclaiming the St Mary South Eastern seat by nine votes.

He had initially lost out to the JLP’s Norman Dunn by 127 votes.

That seat will be subjected to a magisterial recount scheduled to start Wednesday.

Holness, the prime minister-designate, could be sworn in by Thursday and start shaping his Cabinet if the PNP does not request magisterial recounts in any of the seats the JLP won.

Portia Simpson Miller, who was prime minister from 2006-7 and has been the current office holder since 2012, had announced the polls on January 31, expecting her re-election to coincide with her 10th anniversary as president of the PNP.

- Jodi-Ann Gilpin contributed to this story.