Supporters bring party vibes
Published: Tuesday | March 24, 2009
Prime Minister Bruce Golding (second left) escorts Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) candidate for West Portland Daryl Vaz (centre) through a crowd of supporters during yesterday's by-election day activities while JLP General Secretary Karl Samuda (second right) and Government Member of Parliament Ruddy Spencer (behind Vaz) look on. At right is Vaz's wife, Ann-Marie. - Ricardo Makyn/Staff Photographer
In the Portland hills grey, pregnant clouds threatened, but the heavy rain characteristic of these parts seemed reluctant to put a damper on election-day activities in places like Craig Hill and Belvedere. All was quiet, with no lines at the polling stations.
By contrast, the seaside towns of Hope Bay and Buff Bay were teeming under the hot sun. The streets were very busy, and the voting queues were long.
Electoral officials, close to mid-day, reported a 50 per cent voter turnout, but expected the pace to increase as the day progressed.
The much-anticipated by-election was under way as West Portlanders chose between the Jamaica Labour Party's Daryl Vaz and the People's National Party's (PNP) Kenneth Rowe.
Singing and dancing
Buff Bay, the virtual hub of activities was filled with orange-clad supporters of the PNP as well as supporters of the JLP decked in all shades of green. They lined the street on either side. Some rang bells, while others chanted merrily.
"It's PNP time!" bellowed one supporter. "We going to wash them out."
The atmosphere, reminiscent of old-time Jamaican politics, was charged, but the rivalry, although keen, was friendly. Most business places were closed, and would remain closed for the day.
A strong detachment of police and soldiers was in the seaside towns of Hope Bay and Buff Bay maintaining order. While military armoured vehicles - a rare sight in the towns - patrolled the streets, the police were at every turn, many on the outskirts to the towns doing spot checks.
On the ground, representatives from both parties concentrated their efforts on bringing out the voters, and it appeared that the vote of the elderly played a critical role in the outcome of the election.