Current Affairs

Current Affairs




Today is Nomination Day

By Lynford Simpson, Staff Reporter
Monday, September 30, 2002


TODAY IS Nomination Day for some 200 candidates from the ruling People's National Party, the opposition Jamaica Labour Party, the New Jamaica Alliance, the United People's Party, other minor parties, and independents, who are seeking to contest the October 16 general election to the House of Representatives.

In the elections which are 16 days away, the PNP which has been in power since February 9, 1989, is seeking an unprecedented fourth five-year term as government. The JLP last won national parliamentary elections on October 30, 1980 as the PNP boycotted the snap election the JLP called on December 15, 1983.

Candidates have four hours today from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. during which they can be nominated and there are 60 nomination centres throughout the island one in each constituency.

The persons who are duly nominated on Nomination Day become the official candidates for election in the constituencies in which they are nominated.

In order to be nominated, each candidate must make a deposit of $3,000 at the Nomination Centre to the Returning Officer for the constituency. The deposit is later turned over to the Accountant-General. If, on Election Day, the candidate gets less than 10 per cent of the votes polled in the constituency, he or she loses the $3,000 deposit. If the candidate gets more than 10 per cent of the votes the deposit is returned.

Persons wishing to be nominated in a constituency must hand in a prescribed form with the names of 10 electors qualified to vote in the constituency actually on the voters' list. The 10 electors must also sign the form. Usually the 10 electors accompany the candidate to the Nomination Centre and are the only persons allowed into the Nomination Centre with the candidate on Nomination Day.

The candidates seeking nomination today will be vying for a place in the 60-seat lower House of Parliament. A total of 194 candidates were nominated for the December 18, 1997 general election 60 from the PNP, 60 from the JLP, 58 from the National Democratic Movement, and 16 independents and representatives of minor parties. The PNP won 50 seats to 10 for the JLP.

"We expect more than 200 (candidates) Neville Graham, Information Officer at the Electoral Office of Jamaica, Duke Street, downtown Kingston, told The Gleaner on the weekend. He could not give a precise figure, however, noting that the final number would have to await the actual nominations.

The two major political parties the PNP and the JLP will have a full slate of 60 candidates each; the UPP and the recently-formed New Jamaica Alliance are expected to put up 55 to 60 candidates. The NJA is a coalition of the National Democratic Movement, the Republican Party of Jamaica and the Jamaica Alliance for National Unity.

The International Ethiopian World Federation Incorporation Party, dubbed "the Rasta Party", is expected to nominate at least five candidates today, the EOJ said.

Fringe parties such as the Natural Law Party and the Pan African Liberation Movement which contested the 1997 election, have not indicated whether they will field any candidates this election.

Mindful of potential clashes between supporters of the two major parties, Bishop Herro Blair, the Political Ombudsman, said he would be on "full alert today".

"I will be on the spot and I will name breaches as I see them," he told The Gleaner. He said that to the best of his knowledge, all candidates of the two major parties had signed the Code of Political Conduct. "The Custodes would have informed me otherwise. I have not had anything to the contrary," he said.

Following a clash between JLP and PNP supporters in St. Elizabeth South Eastern last week, the two candidates Franklin Witter of the JLP and Lenworth Blake of the PNP, have agreed to being nominated two hours apart and to avoid having the supporters who usually accompany them to and from the Nomination Centres going through each other's strongholds today.

Other rival candidates have agreed to go to the Nomination Centres at well-spaced intervals to minimise the chances of their supporters clashing.