KINGSTON, Jamaica, Friday February 25, 2016 – Andrew Holness is back in charge in Jamaica. He is set to be sworn in as the country’s new Prime Minister after his Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) toppled the People’s National Party (PNP) government, winning 33 of the 63 seats in Parliament in yesterday’s elections.
Holness, who served as prime minister for a two-month period in 2011 when he succeeded Bruce Golding as JLP leader, will be joined in the House of Representatives by his wife, Juliette Holness, who captured the St Andrew East Rural seat in her first political outing.
Despite her party’s loss, former prime minister Portia Simpson Miller also retained her seat.
The poll was marked by a low voter turnout – 47.5 per cent – and its outcome was historic. It was the slimmest victory margin for any political party in Jamaica’s history.
Addressing supporters at JLP headquarters last night, Holness promised that it would not be “government as usual”.
“We have been given stewardship of the country, and we stand to be held to account for our stewardship. We know that the cost of victory is accountability. The cost of victory is the responsiveness of the government that we will form. The cost of victory is to keep the commitments that we have made,” he said.
— Andrew Holness (@AndrewHolnessJM) February 26, 2016
“Our campaign was issues-based. We focused on the things that you told us were important to you. We developed plans around them and we discussed those plans with you, and we intend to be faithful to those plans. We will grow the Jamaican economy. We will create jobs. We will give you an accountable and responsive government.”
— snapc: gabelinaxox ✨ (@gabelinaxx) February 26, 2016
Among the commitments Holness made in the 10-point plan he unveiled during the campaign, was that a JLP administration would get rid of personal income tax for persons who earned less than J$1.5 million (US$) annually.
That proposal was rubbished by the PNP, with Simpson Miller warning that the plan would destroy the economy.
In her concession speech, the former prime minister said she hoped the achievements made by her administration would “not be ruined”.
“I hope those who succeed us will not throw away the gains made by the People’s National Party government . . . What our team is going to do is monitor everything that happens and every decision taken. We did all we could to make it easier for the Jamaican people,” she said.
— Abka Fitz-Henley (@AbkaFitzHenley) February 26, 2016
Despite a campaign that featured incidents of violence – as well as allegations of vote-buying and threats of lawsuits and countersuits – police reported that apart from a few skirmishes and reports of intimidation, there were no major politically-related incidents on Election Day.