BY HG HELPS Editor-at-Large firstname.lastname@example.org Sunday, January 31, 2016
Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller will tonight end the agony and anxiety of millions of Jamaicans at home and in the Diaspora by announcing the date for the island’s 17th general election since voting began in 1944.
If all goes well, Simpson Miller, who will deliver the main address when the ruling People’s National Party (PNP) cranks up its election machinery in Half-Way-Tree square, St Andrew, should convey the vital information by 9:00 pm. By or before that time, the nation will hear whether or not they will vote in late February or early March of this year in an election that could have been held in a year’s time, based on constitutional provisions, but which the present Administration insists on calling early.
Already, mouths — wayward and controlled — have been busy projecting February 29 as the likely date, seeing that it coincides with the PNP’s famous election victory 44 years ago on that same date in 1972 when Michael Manley toppled his friend and fellow trade unionist Hugh Lawson Shearer from power.
The Simpson Miller-led PNP pushed its neck ahead of the Opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) last Sunday with full-page advertisements in the Sunday Observer and Sunday Gleaner newspapers showing its 63 candidates. The JLP has followed in today’s edition. That marked a clear sign that the Prime Minister was shaping up to fly the proverbial gate. Two days later, Simpson Miller in an off-microphone comment in the House of Representatives, told Opposition spokesman on finance and planning, Audley Shaw, who is also member of parliament for Manchester North Eastern, that her “master” had touched her. That was in reference to an earlier pronouncement by her that she would await a touch from her master (God) regarding when she should announce the date for the election.
The PNP is buoyed by the revelations of an opinion poll conducted by Dr Don Anderson’s Market Research Services for the RJR Communications Group last week that the party enjoys a four-percentage points lead over the JLP among committed voters. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus three per cent.
Based upon Jamaican law, a nomination day for a general election must be held no fewer than five days and no more than seven days after the announcement, while the general Election must be held no less than 16 days and no more than 21 days after nomination day.
Word reaching the Jamaica Observer is that the ruling party is considering commissioning another opinion poll closer to the election. more