by Howard Campbell
Kingston, Jamaica – Jamaicans will go the polls on September 3, prime minister Andrew Holness announced in parliament here on August 11.
Holness, leader of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) said Nomination Day (when candidates are officially declared to contest the 63 constituencies) is August 18.
Speculation that Holness would call early elections was rife since last week when he toured rural areas and teased supporters that “Soon, soon!”
Elections in Jamaica are constitutionally due every five years. The next polls were, by law, set for February
Holness, 48, moved five resolutions that led to the revocation of the States of Emergency (SOEs) which takes effect August 17. The SOEs have been in place for the last two years in six of the 14 parishes that are besieged by crime.
The JLP hold 34 of the 63 seats in parliament. Holness eked out a 32-31 victory in February, 2016 to upset the incumbent People’s National Party (PNP) led by prime minister Portia Simpson Miller.
Dr. Peter Phillips, 70, is current leader of the PNP. A former security, health and finance minister, he will lead the party in a general election for the first time.
Since the last election, the JLP have strengthed their position in parliament by winning two by-elections.
Polls show the popular Holness expected to lead the JLP to a resounding victory despite a flurry of scandals surrounding key government ministers.
Crime is also still a concern for most Jamaicans who are also struggling economically.
Holness first became prime minister in October, 2011 after prime minister Bruce Golding resigned in wake of a corruption scandal around Christopher “Dudus” Coke, enforcer of his West Kingston constituency.
The PNP, led by Simpson Miller, easily won the election that December.