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(Jamaica Gleaner) – Jamaicans are to go to the polls on Thursday, September 3, 2020.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness made the announcement in Parliament a short while ago.

Nomination Day will be Tuesday, August 18, 2020. 

It will be Jamaica’s 18th general election since Universal Adult Suffrage in 1944.

“I now see it necessary to seek another mandate from the people,” said Holness before making the announcement.

Both the People’s National Party (PNP) and the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) are expected to field a full slate of 63 candidates while the newly formed Jamaica Progressive Party could have candidates in two-thirds of the seats. 

The election is being held at a time when Jamaica is seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases, which could impact voter turnout.

Holness said this demands that there is balance and responsibility.

“It has to be about ensuring that we keep people safe and we balance the economy,” he said.  

Some 1,913,410 persons are on the July 31 voters’ list, up from 1,824,410 in the February 2016 election, in which Holness’ JLP registered a shock one-seat win over the PNP, which was led by Portia Simpson Miller.

The PNP has since placed the mantle of leadership in the hands of Dr Peter Phillip, who has trailed Holness in every opinion poll since taking over the party.

However, the Comrades appear confident that they can secure victory, pointing to governance issues such as corruption and high crime as failures of the Holness administration.

In 2018, poverty was measured at a 20-year low, an achievement that Holness’ JLP said was due to its management of the economy and the creation of new jobs in sectors such as the business process outsourcing, tourism and construction.

But COVID-19 changed that reality as hundreds of thousands of people have either lost their jobs or are earning reduced salaries since the virus was confirmed in Jamaica on March 10.

Nonetheless, Jamaicans, in opinion polls, have given the Government the thumbs up for the management of the pandemic, and have said they trust Holness more than Phillips to lead the rebuilding of Jamaica’s economy after COVID-19.

The Planning Institute of Jamaica has projected that the economy will contract by between four per cent and six per cent in fiscal year 2020-21 versus a pre-COVID forecast of 1.2 per cent growth.

Following its win in 2016, the JLP Government delivered on its promise to increase the income tax threshold to $1.5 million, removing the burden of income tax payment from about 133,000 persons.

However, the Government’s target of achieving five per cent growth in gross domestic product (GDP) in four years was badly missed.

Seats being targeted by JLP

1. South St James  – Homer Davis (JLP) v Dr Walton Small (PNP)

2. North Trelawny – Tova Hamilton (JLP) v Victor Wright (PNP)

3. West Hanover – Tamika Davis (JLP) v Ian Hayles (PNP)

4. Central Westmoreland – George Wright (JLP) v Dwayne Vaz (PNP)

5. North East St Elizabeth – Delroy Slowley (JLP) v Basil Waite (PNP)

6. North Clarendon – Dwight Sibbles (JLP) v Horace Dalley (PNP)

7. North West Clarendon – Phillip Henriques (JLP) v Richard Azan (PNP)

8. North West St Catherine – Newton Amos (JLP) v Hugh Graham (PNP)

9. North Central St Catherine – Natalie Rodriguez (JLP) v Natalie Neita (PNP)

10. South East St Catherine – Robert Miller (JLP) v Colin Fagan (PNP)

11. North West St Ann – Krystal Lee (JLP) v Dr Dayton Campbell (PNP)

Seats being targeted by PNP

1. North East St Catherine – Kerensia Morrison v Oswest Senior Smith (PNP)

2. East Central St Catherine – Alando Terrelonge (JLP) v Raymond Pryce (PNP)

3. Eastern St Andrew  – Fayval Williams (JLP) v Venesha Phillips (PNP)

4. West Rural St Andrew – Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn (JLP) v Krystal Tomlinson (PNP)

5. South West St Ann – Zavia Mayne (JLP) v Val Wint (PNP)

6. South East Clarendon – Pearnel Charles Jr (JLP) v Patricia Duncan Sutherland (PNP)

7. North Central Clarendon – Robert Morgan (JLP) vs Dr Desmond Brennan (PNP)

8. Central St James – Heroy Clarke (JLP) v Andre Hylton (PNP)

9. West Central St James – Marlene Malahoo Forte v Dr Andre Haughton (PNP)

10. Eastern Hanover – Dave Hume Brown (JLP) v Wavell Hinds (PNP)

10. South East St Elizabeth – Franklyn Witter (JLP) v Dr Dwayne Spencer (PNP)

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