The current Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness, has been re-elected for a second term with a landslide victory in the general elections held in the Caribbean country on September 3. The preliminary results, with over 80% of the votes counted, showed that the ruling center-right Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) won 49 of the 63 seats in the parliament, while the opposition center-left party, the People’s National Party (PNP) led by Peter Phillips, won only 14 seats. The JLP secured 57.1% of the votes, while the PNP got 42.8% of the votes.
With this victory, Holness became the first JLP leader to be elected in two consecutively contested general elections since 1967. The JLP won these elections with one of the largest victory margins in decades, but also with one of the lowest voter turnouts in history at only 37%.
“There is cause for celebration, but there is also significant cause for consideration. There are many Jamaicans who did not participate, there are many Jamaicans, who for fear of the virus, did not come to the polls, but for other reasons, apathy, frustrations, decided not to participate,” said PM Holness in a speech after the announcement of preliminary results.
Over 1.9 million citizens were eligible to vote and a total of 126 candidates, including 13 independents, contested in the parliamentary elections.
Under the constitution, the elections had been required between February 25 and June 10, 2021. However, PM Holness called for early elections last month in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Three weeks ago, on August 13, Jamaica’s parliament was dissolved on PM’s advice, who argued that the citizens need a new government.
Some analysts saw Holness’s decision as a bid to capitalize on people’s satisfaction with his economic agenda and early response to the pandemic. In these elections, the JLP gained 16 seats.
Wearing face masks, undergoing temperature checks before entering polling stations, washing or sanitizing hands upon entering polling stations, respecting physical distancing measures, among other practices, were mandatory. There were special rules in place for people who have been tested positive for coronavirus or are in quarantine for being suspicious cases with restricted voting hours.
The confirmed COVID-19 patients were able to vote between 4 and 5 pm, and had to wear face masks, face shields, hand gloves and protective gowns. An hour later, at 6 pm, people in home quarantine for suspicious cases and those in close contact with confirmed patients were able to cast their vote.
As of September 7 morning, Jamaica had 3,103 registered cases of COVID-19 and 33 deaths.