FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Jamaica’s Elections

by NORMAN GIRVAN

The Portia Simpson-Miller led People’s National Party (PNP) is back in office in Jamaica, having won the December29 parliamentary election by the impressive margin of 41 seats to 22. Early reports are that nearly one-half of the eligible electors did not vote; and that the PNP secured 53 percent of the popular vote. If these reports are correct, the PNP”s 65 percent of seats in Parliament is based on the votes of only 27 percent of Jamaica’s qualified electors. As some commentators have observed , this points to a substantial ‘participation deficit’ in Jamaica’s governance and ‘confidence deficit’ in Jamaica’s democracy. The new Administration will ignore this only at its peril.

The immediate challenge facing the new government is the economy—specifically, the IMF. The latest agreement has been off-track for most of the last year; the government has no choice but to re-establish it in order to access badly needed funds. The room to manoeuvre is limited. A fresh austerity package is a virtual certainty. The IMF will also demand credible assurances on policy and institutional reforms; that went awry under the previous government. The PNP government will strive to extract concessions to soften the blow, notably the jobs programme that was the centrepiece of its election manifesto. But the package as a whole is likely to be deflationary rather than growth-promoting. And getting sustainable growth remains the number one challenge for Jamaica. This will be the litmus test of the government’s economic performance.

What about Caricom? The PNP’s victory will probably be welcomed in the region. Traditionally, the PNP is seen as Cari-for; the JLP, as Cari-sceptic. But we need action, not image. On the agenda must be Jamaica’s huge trade deficit with Trinidad and Tobago–a festering sore on the body of Caricom relations. ‘Portia’ and ‘Kamla’ should address this as a matter of priority. Can they succeed where their male counterparts have failed?

Besides, the CCJ and the CSME are languishing. Prime Minister Simpson-Miller has to find the political skills to take Jamaica fully into the Caribbean Court of Justice. Will Jamaica’s 50th Independence anniversary party in August 2012 find British Privy Councillors still sitting in final judgement? After all, she is on record as wanting a Jamaican Queen!

And speaking of Queens, when is Jamaica going to get rid of the ridiculous anachronism of having the British monarch as the Jamaican head of state? Does Mrs. Simpson-Miller’s declaration, made in the heat of an election debate, reflect a subconscious desire to be installed as the first President of the Republic of Jamaica; presiding triumphantly over the Independence celebrations?

Some would view this is as an unlikely scenario. An Executive Presidency has never been supported by the JLP. And I can’t quite imagine Mrs. Simpson-Miller as a purely ceremonial head, devoid of real power. Besides, ‘Sister P’, as she is affectionately known to her supporters, is already a queen in their eyes.

Still, who knows? Any scenario can play!

Norman Girvan can be reached through his website.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
February 24, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Pierre M. Sprey - Franklin “Chuck” Spinney
Sleepwalking Into a Nuclear Arms Race with Russia
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Exxon’s End Game Theory
John Laforge
Did Obama Pave the Way for More Torture?
Ajamu Baraka
Malcolm X and Human Rights in the Time of Trumpism:  Transcending the Masters tools
Paul Street
Liberal Hypocrisy, “Late-Shaming,” and Russia-Blaming in the Age of Trump
Vijay Prashad
A Foreign Policy of Cruel Populism
John Chuckman
Israel’s Terrible Problem: Two States or One?
Matthew Stevenson
The Parallax View of Donald Trump
Stan Cox
Can the Climate Survive Electoral Democracy? Maybe. Can It Survive Capitalism? No.
Ramzy Baroud
The Trump-Netanyahu Circus: Now, No One Can Save Israel from Itself
Chuck Collins
Wall Street Hopes You’ve Forgotten the Crash Already
Edward Hunt
The United States of Permanent War
Pete Dolack
The Bait and Switch of Public-Private Partnerships
Elliot Sperber
Why Resistance is Insufficient
Brian Cloughley
What are You Going to Do About Afghanistan, President Trump?
Binoy Kampmark
Warring in the Oncology Ward
Yves Engler
Remembering the Coup in Ghana
Jeremy Brecher
“Climate Kids” v. Trump: Trial of the Century Pits Trump Climate Denialism Against Right to a Climate System Capable of Sustaining Human Life”
Franklin Lamb
Another Small Step for Syrian Refugee Children in Beirut’s “Aleppo Park”
Ron Jacobs
The Realist: Irreverence Was Their Only Sacred Cow
Robert Koehler
Costa Rica’s Peace Journey
Andre Vltchek
Lock up England in Jail or an Insane Asylum!
Paul DeRienzo
Three Years Since the Kitty Litter Disaster at Waste Isolation Pilot Plant
Eric Sommer
Organize Workers Immigrant Defense Committees!
Steve Cooper
A Progressive Agenda
Andrew Stewart
The 4CHAN Presidency: A Media Critique of the Alt-Right
Edward Leer
Tripping USA: The Chair
Nyla Ali Khan
One Certain Effect of Instability in Kashmir is the Erosion of Freedom of Expression and Regional Integration
Rob Hager
The Only Fake News That Probably Threw the Election to Trump was not Russian 
Mark Dickman
The Prophet: Deutscher’s Trotsky
Christopher Brauchli
The Politics of the Toilet Police
Charles R. Larson
Review: Timothy B. Tyson’s “The Blood of Emmett Till”
February 23, 2017
Dave Brotherton
Trump, Moral Panics and Resistance
Jonathan Cook
One State: Trump Has Reminded Palestinians What It Was Always About
Bill Quigley
Ten Examples of Direct Resistance to Stop Government Raids
Linn Washington Jr.
Bigot Boy Business: Trump Exposes His Ignorance and Intolerance, Again
John W. Whitehead
The Illusion of Freedom: the Police State Is Alive and Well
Ralph Nader
Restricting People’s Use of Their Courts
David Macaray
Women As Labor Union Organizers
Kathy Kelly
Friendship in Defiance of War
Doug Weir
Why Did the US Use Depleted Uranium Weapons in Syria?
Steve Horn
Former GOP Congressional Staffer Follows Revolving Door, Now Latest Keystone XL Lobbyist
Binoy Kampmark
From Rights to Repentance: Norma McCorvey and Roe v Wade
Thomas Knapp
The Target of the “Border Adjustment Tax” is You
Chris Zinda
Open Letter to Neoliberal Environmentalists
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail