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PNP and JLP head to Western Jamaica with mass rallies

Published:Thursday | November 19, 2015 | 12:00 AMDaraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter

Western Jamaica will be the focus of the country's two political parties this weekend as the campaign to form the next government intensifies.

Andrew Holness will yet again lead the top bass of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) to St Elizabeth, this time stopping in Junction for a mass meeting later this evening.

The JLP train will then roll into Montego Bay on Sunday for another rally.

On Sunday also, the PNP will be in western Jamaica, this time in Black River, the heart of South West St Elizabeth which is considered to be the most vulnerable seat now held by the governing PNP.

In 2011, the PNP's Hugh Buchanan beat the JLP's Dr Christopher Tufton in South West St Elizabeth by 13 votes.

Buchanan is now facing a stiff challenge from Floyd Green of the JLP.

With the exception of 1959 when the South West St Elizabeth seat was created, it has always been won by a member of the party which forms the government.

But while the PNP rushes to provide support for Buchanan, the JLP is seeking to take away South East St Elizabeth from its grasp. 

The seat is now represented by Richard Parchment who defeated the JLP's Frank Witter in the 2011 general election by 970 votes.

South East St Elizabeth has consistently voted for the winning party since 1989 which included Witter's victory in 2007 which helped the JLP take power 32-28 in the then 60-seat House of Representatives.

Now, Witter is seeking revenge, and the recent history of the constituency suggests that it is likely to vote for a candidate from the winning party.

The PNP holds three of the four seats in St Elizabeth, reversing the numbers of 2007 when the JLP won the parish three-one.

In St James, the PNP holds two of the four seats.

One of the seats – Central St James – was won by 98 votes by Lloyd B. Smith.

The PNP's candidate this time around is Ashley-Ann Foster who is up against the JLP's Heroy Clarke.

West Central St James, another marginal seat, was won by the PNP's Sharon Folkes Abrahams over the JLP's Clive Mullings by 673 votes.

Mullings has now been replaced by Senator Marlene Malahoo Forte on the JLP's ticket.

North West St James, held by the JLP's Dr Horace Chang is thought to be a sold Labour party seat.

However, Ed Bartlett's East Central St James, which was won by 174 votes, is considered extremely marginal and could fall to the PNP's Noel Donaldson.

The other seat, South St James, is held by the PNP's Derrick Kellier who won the seat by 1,072 votes in 2011.

Kellier, a six-term MP, saw his margin dip to 249 in 2007 after recording a 1,490 margin in 2002.