Jamaica’s Elections

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:
March 21, 2018
Paul Street
Time is Running Out: Who Will Protect Our Wrecked Democracy from the American Oligarchy?
Mel Goodman
The Great Myth of the So-Called “Adults in the Room”
Chris Floyd
Stumbling Blocks: Tim Kaine and the Bipartisan Abettors of Atrocity
Eric Draitser
The Political Repression of the Radical Left in Crimea
Patrick Cockburn
Erdogan Threatens Wider War Against the Kurds
John Steppling
It is Us
Thomas Knapp
Death Penalty for Drug Dealers? Be Careful What You Wish for, President Trump
Manuel García, Jr.
Why I Am a Leftist (Vietnam War)
Isaac Christiansen
A Left Critique of Russiagate
Howard Gregory
The Unemployment Rate is an Inadequate Reporter of U.S. Economic Health
Ramzy Baroud
Who Wants to Kill Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah?
Roy Morrison
Trouble Ahead: The Trump Administration at Home and Abroad
Roger Hayden
Too Many Dead Grizzlies
George Wuerthner
The Lessons of the Battle to Save the Ancient Forests of French Pete
Binoy Kampmark
Fictional Free Trade and Permanent Protectionism: Donald Trump’s Economic Orthodoxy
Rivera Sun
Think Outside the Protest Box
March 20, 2018
Jonathan Cook
US Smooths Israel’s Path to Annexing West Bank
Jeffrey St. Clair
How They Sold the Iraq War
Chris Busby
Cancer, George Monbiot and Nuclear Weapons Test Fallout
Nick Alexandrov
Washington’s Invasion of Iraq at Fifteen
David Mattson
Wyoming Plans to Slaughter Grizzly Bears
Paul Edwards
My Lai and the Bad Apples Scam
Julian Vigo
The Privatization of Water and the Impoverishment of the Global South
Mir Alikhan
Trump and Pompeo on Three Issues: Paris, Iran and North Korea
Seiji Yamada
Preparing For Nuclear War is Useless
Gary Leupp
Brennan, Venality and Turpitude
Martha Rosenberg
Why There’s a Boycott of Ben & Jerry’s on World Water Day, March 22
John Pilger
Skripal Case: a Carefully-Constructed Drama?
March 19, 2018
Henry Heller
The Moment of Trump
John Davis
Pristine Buildings, Tarnished Architect
Uri Avnery
The Fake Enemy
Patrick Cockburn
The Fall of Afrin and the Next Phase of the Syrian War
Nick Pemberton
The Democrats Can’t Save Us
Nomi Prins 
Jared Kushner, RIP: a Political Obituary for the President’s Son-in-Law
Georgina Downs
The Double Standards and Hypocrisy of the UK Government Over the ‘Nerve Agent’ Spy Poisoning
Dean Baker
Trump and the Federal Reserve
Colin Todhunter
The Strategy of Tension Towards Russia and the Push to Nuclear War
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
US Empire on Decline
Ralph Nader
Ahoy America, Give Trump a Taste of His Own Medicine Starting on Trump Imitation Day
Robert Dodge
Eliminate Nuclear Weapons by Divesting from Them
Laura Finley
Shame on You, Katy Perry
Weekend Edition
March 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Michael Uhl
The Tip of the Iceberg: My Lai Fifty Years On
Bruce E. Levine
School Shootings: Who to Listen to Instead of Mainstream Shrinks
Mel Goodman
Caveat Emptor: MSNBC and CNN Use CIA Apologists for False Commentary
Paul Street
The Obama Presidency Gets Some Early High Historiography