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Both major political parties continue to rally supporters as election nears

Published:Sunday | November 22, 2015 | 12:00 AM

As the Jamaican electorate awaits the announcement of the date for the impending general elections, both major political parties continue to rally supporters with the staging of mass meetings in Granville, St James and Black River, St Elizabeth this evening.

The ruling People's National Party (PNP) will head to St Elizabeth today to drum up support in the vulnerable south west St Elizabeth constituency.

Both the PNP and the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) view constituencies in St Elizabeth as key in deciding the winner of the next general elections. South west St Elizabeth, currently represented by the PNP's Hugh Buchanan, is considered the weakest of the three seats that the PNP represents in St Elizabeth. The PNP's organiser in the region, Mikael Phillips, insists it is not a sign that the party is in trouble.

Buchanan had narrowly defeated Dr Christopher Tufton of the JLP in 2011 by 13 votes to clinch 49.9 per cent of the votes.

Buchanan now faces Floyd Green, a former president of the JLP's youth arm, Generation 2000, who will represent the JLP in the upcoming parliamentary elections.

Chairman of the JLP’s campaign team, Mike Henry, has indicated that the party is targeting a minimum of 35 seats and says winning back the two St Elizabeth seats it lost in the 2011 elections is critical to the party's chances.

Tufton's victory in the 2007 elections marked the first time the JLP had won the south-west St Elizabeth seat in 18 years. Franklyn Witter, who won south-east St Elizabeth by 540 votes in 2007, was also defeated in 2011 by the PNP's Richard Parchment with a 970-vote majority.

With the exception of 1959, the person elected to represent south-west St Elizabeth has always been a member of the winning party. And, since 1989 south-east St Elizabeth has consistently voted for the winning party.

And while the PNP rallies in Black River this evening, the JLP and its supporters are gathering in Granville, north-western St James.

The seat is represented by the party's general secretary, Dr Horace Chang. JLP leader Andrew Holness will deliver the party's main address as it drums up support from its base in the constituency.