The people have spoken ...
As a Jamaican living overseas looking in, I could feel the expressed frustration, disappointment, dissatisfaction, disillusionment, and disgruntlement shown by voters from the recent election results. In short, in true Jamaican parlance the people have ‘dissed’ the political representatives of both parties.
The recently formed Jamaica Progressive Party (JPP), in hindsight, may now be regretting their decision to “back out” of the election race, as it is evident that Jamaicans no longer have any confidence in the two major political parties representing them.
Both political parties, the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and the opposition People’s National Party (PNP), must from the election results see the chagrin of the people from every “nook and cranny” of the country, and even from us here in the diaspora, though we do not have the right to vote.
The election results show:
• Of the approximately 1,924,100 voters on the Voters List, only 711, 921 voters cast their ballots at the recent polls: representing unprecedentedly, lowest voter turn-out in the history of Jamaica’s elections. Only 37% of voters went to the polls.
• Some 1,212,180 voters, representing 63% of registered voters, decided not to cast their vote in this election. This absence of voters should be a deafening sound to both parties of voter frustration with politics and politicians.
• Another startling observation of the recent election is, of the 711,921 voters who participated in the election, the JLP secured only 406,764 of the votes (or 57% of the popular votes) amassing 49 of the 63 seats of Parliament; a resounding majority; whilst the opposition PNP secured 305, 157 votes (or 43% of the popular votes) but in stark contrast, secured only 14 seats.
What is wrong with this picture? Are the constituencies fairly divided?
• The JLP having secured 49 seats vs PNP’s 14 seats means that the ruling party would have been given autonomy in the decision-making process of the country, making the opposition party almost powerless in Parliament. Bills will be passed with ease as the JLP has a majority in Parliament. It is therefore incumbent on the opposition party to be the eyes and voice of the people, by ensuring full focus of all Bills proposed be outlined thoroughly and intensely in the media and social platforms available.
The PM has pledged good governance in his new administration, admitting that he will be dealing with the stigma of corruption. We will hold him to this pledge, as many believe that he is caught between a “rock and a hard place”, as the alleged corrupted members of his party are his friends. We are all watching to see what ministerial positions they will be given in the new administration. We will also be watching keenly the positions he will assign the women who have entered politics and have won their seats in Parliament.
The opposition party in the last four years did just that and their loyal supporters simply got tired of the internal squabbles. Supporters, loyal Comrades would not vote for the ruling JLP and could not consciously vote for a squabbling opposition party which was not in readiness to lead the people if given the mandate. So they did what was best in their own judgement – they abstained; withholding their votes. The people have spoken.
It is time for the PNP, known as the “party for the lower and middle class” to forgive quickly, putting all the backbiting and slander behind them; reconcile their differences, regroup and begin to rebuild the party on the mantra of the founding fathers.
PNP leadership might even need to visit the diaspora, to identify talented and willing men and women – inviting them to return home to contribute to the development and advancement of their country.
The world has seen a new normal and so should the PNP. It is time to review how things are done in the party.
Beverly Johnson is an import and export businesswoman operating in the United Kingdom.