JLP rally downtown Kingston last week Sunday. - File
THE OPPOSITION Jamaica Labour Party has a near three percentage points lead over the ruling People's National Party in the island's central parishes, according to the findings of the latest Gleaner-Don Anderson poll.
St. Ann, Manchester, Clarendon and St. Catherine make up the central parishes and they account for 23 of the island's 60 constituencies.
Of the 1,119 persons 18 years and older who were polled in 92 communities throughout the island from August 1 to 23, 34.1 per cent said they would vote for the JLP in the upcoming general election. This is 2.7 per cent more than the 31.4 per cent who said they would cast their ballots for the PNP. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 per cent.
Respondents were asked: "Which of the parties do you intend to vote for in the general election?"
Mr. Anderson and his team from Market Research Services Ltd., state that voter-turnout for the central region is likely to be high.
"Voter intention is highest in these central parishes where close to 70 per cent of the eligible voters say they have made up their minds as to which party to vote for when elections are called," Mr. Anderson states in his analysis.
In the December 18, 1997 general election in which the PNP won 50 seats to 10 for the JLP, the PNP won 19 of the 23 seats in the central parishes.
The JLP has since gained two more seats in the central region. These are the St. Catherine North East seat which was won initially by Phyllis Mitchell (PNP), but was later awarded to Abe Dabdoub, her JLP challenger, by the Election Court, and the St. Ann North East seat where Shahine Robinson (JLP) defeated the PNP's Carol Jackson in the March 2001 by-election. The by-election was made held after the resignation of Danny Melville.
The JLP now holds two seats in Clarendon, two in St. Catherine and one each in Manchester and St. Ann.
The St. Ann South East seat is vacant. It was dominated for many years by Seymour Mullings, former Deputy Prime Minister, who is now Jamaica's Ambassador to the United States. In the upcoming election Senator Aloun N'Dombet Assamba is the PNP's candidate. She is facing Peter Fakhourie of the JLP, Mrs. Robinson's brother.
According to Mr. Anderson's findings, the other parties contesting the election are unlikely to make an impact in the central region. Only 1.2 per cent said they will support the alliance among the National Democratic Movement, Jamaica Alliance for National Unity and the Republican Party of Jamaica. Two-point-one per cent said they will vote for the United People's Party; three-point-three per cent will not vote; 19.2 per cent remains undecided; 8.2 per cent did not respond.