Jamaica Election: Andrew Holness’ JLP re-elected

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[BBC] Jamaica’s ruling party has been re-elected with a landslide victory.

The centre-right Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) won 49 of 63 seats in Thursday’s parliamentary election.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness called for the early vote last month in what analysts saw as a bid to capitalise on people’s satisfaction with his economic agenda and early response to the virus.

But he has faced criticism amid a surge in coronavirus cases as restrictions are lifted.

Face masks and temperature checks were compulsory in polling stations.

The campaign was dominated by discussions over the economy, how to fight crime and the coronavirus pandemic.

The result was one of the larges margins of victory in decades, but also one of the lowest voter turnouts at 37%. In the 2016 elections, turnout was over 48%.

“There is cause for celebration, but there is also significant cause for consideration,” Mr Holness said after the results were announced and he had seen his JLP gain 16 seats.

“There are many Jamaicans who did not participate, there are many Jamaicans, who for fear of the virus, did not come to the polls, but for other reasons, apathy, frustrations, decided not to participate.”

Mr Holness, a former education minister and leader of the conservative Jamaican Labour Party, has been prime minister since March 2016.

At a televised debate on Saturday, he said 100,000 jobs had been created during his time in office while 22,000 Jamaicans had had the chance to buy their own homes. Taxes had been cut, he said, and poverty was at its lowest level in 10 years.

However, the prime minister has also faced criticism over high rates of crime and violence, and alleged corruption among public officials.

In 2011, Mr Holness became Jamaica’s youngest prime minister at the age of 39, but governed for only 74 days after losing an election to Portia Simpson Miller, the country’s first female head of government.