Jamaica Gleaner / It’s the final week of campaigning before the March 5 by-election in North West St Andrew and both the People’s National Party (PNP) and the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) have made clear their intentions to crank up the machinery in preparation for the day.
Though the usual fireworks and mass rallies have been absent from this campaign, party officials and their surrogates have been on the ground trying to convince voters one way or the other. Keisha Hayle, for the PNP, and the JLP’s Dr Nigel Clarke are the names that will be on the ballot, and both candidates are taking nothing for granted.
Political observers argue that the JLP will run away with seat, and the clear sign of that has been the low political temperature under which the campaigns have both been operating.
Troy Caine, political historian, also expects a low voter turnout.
“It is probably a sign that the Opposition party doesn’t see their way out, at least just yet, and it is probably a sign that the governing party is in no rush,” he said.
Nonetheless, general secretary of the PNP, Julian Robinson, told The Gleaner he is convinced that his party has fielded a good candidate to face off against the JLP, which has had a stranglehold on the seat since 1980.
“We will continue to do our door-to-door. No big meeting or mass rallies. The intensification will come, but, it will be more direct engagement with the voters. She (Hayle) is the candidate and we are fully behind her,” Robinson said.
Like their general secretary, PNP supporters in the constituency say they have not written off the seat and have vowed to taint the Labourites’ record of victory come next week Monday.
As for the JLP, having snatched the South East St Mary seat from the grasp of the PNP back in October, they are riding the political tide, confident of pulling off a comfortable victory in North West St Andrew.
“The campaign is going well and we are doing what is required for the seat. We have brought in additional personnel and the team we have there are highly motivated. We will intensify our activities this week until Sunday,” JLP General Secretary Dr Horace Chang told The Gleaner .