Fascinating chess game
Gary Spaulding, Senior Gleaner Writer
The economic and social challenges of 2009 have set the stage for an intriguing 2010 in the political arena.
The recession and the Govern-ment's resumption of a borrowing relationship with the International Monetary Fund, coupled with the hike in taxes and the continuing crime wave, provide the pawns for a fascinating chess game of politics.
Anticipation has been heightened by the fact that local government elections are constitutionally due this year.
The debate is energetic in the political domain over whether Prime Minister Bruce Golding would gamble his political fortunes by calling an election, even at the local government level, this year.
With the political stakes rising, strategists in the two major parties are not taking any chances and say they are ready to hit the ground running.
General secretary of the governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), Karl Samuda, told The Sunday Gleaner that he has set his machinery in motion.
Samuda said the strategies being pursued by the JLP Secretariat include engaging and sensitising Jamaicans at the community level of the features of the Government's plans and programmes.
sense of focus
"The primary focus will be to ensure that the system leading to local government elections are in place and work in the division done with a sense of focus consistent with the policies of Government at the community level," Samuda said.
"We have charged all councillors to use all available information to convey the challenges and the strategies being pursued, that they know the policies are not just leading to hardship, but that there is good to come in the medium to long term," he added.
In the meantime, a revitalised Opposition People's National Party (PNP) is raring to go, hoping the misfortunes of the Government will redound to its advantage.
The outspoken Raymond Pryce, working feverishly to jolt the PNP's young professional group, The Patriots, out of its sleepy state, was barely able to contain his excitement when he spoke with The Sunday Gleaner.
"It is clear that the Golding administration has a deficit of confidence," declared Pryce.
"I will not be surprised when, not if but when, a general election is called this year and it's not about election, it is about inability (of the Government) thus far."
While there are indications that the JLP is more interested in shoring up its support after a particularly tough year rather than going to the polls, Delano Seiveright, president of the party's young professionals group, Generation 2000, said his organisation would not be found wanting if an election is called.
"We are prepared for any eventuality. We will continue to bolster the organisational capacity and talent pool."
President of the PNP's Youth Organisation, Damion Crawford, is not expecting Golding to call an election this year.
For that reason, Crawford said his organisation would continue to advocate for what he described as "systematic changes" by producing papers on different issues of national importance.
Notwithstanding, Crawford said the PNPYO would continue to mobilise support at the ground level and prepare its members, many of whom are interested in contesting divisions for the opposition party.
"We have many potential candidates, but I doubt that the prime minister will call an election this year; however, the PNPYO is in an advanced state of preparedness."