by Erica Virtue, Senior Gleaner Writer
Michael Peart, the People's National Party's (PNP) candidate in Manchester Southern, had an easy victory in what was expected to be a bruising challenge from Collin Virgo, the general secretary of the Jamaica Labour Party's (JLP) young professionals affiliate Generation 2000 (G2K).
Peart has now secured a fifth term in Parliament and cemented his place in the annals of Jamaican politics. Peart polled 9,547 votes to Virgo's 7,040.
Peart has held the seat since 1993 when he took the reins from the retired Dr Douglas Manley.
In 1989, Manley polled 8,615 to the JLP's Lloyd Bent's 5,604. Manley did not contest the 1993 elections, paving the way for Peart, who won the seat but with a dramatically reduced majority and a sharp decline in the number of votes for the PNP.
In that election Peart polled 6,057 votes to Bent's 4,702 votes.
The fortunes of the PNP rose in the 1997 elections and Peart polled 8,030 votes with his winning margin climbing to more than 3,000.
Since that time the JLP has gained ground in every election in the constituency with Peart's victory margin declining constantly.
By the 2007 general election Peart's victory margin was down to 835 votes, the lowest of his political life.
This prompted speculation among political watchers that Peart could lose the seat this time around but the wily old fox has managed to pull it off.