Current Affairs

Current Affairs




PNP could defy the odds

Jamaica Gleaner
Monday, September 23, 2002
Anthony Myers, Contributor


IN SPITE of the power pendulum swinging in the JLP's favour in Clarendon South Eastern in the upcoming general election, the incumbent MP who is the PNP's candidate could defy the odds.

In 1959 as a result of an advancement in the Constitution, 45 constituencies were provided for Jamaica, an increase of 13 constituencies over the 32 which had been fixed in 1944.

This necessitated new maps and new descriptions for all the new constituencies. Clarendon South Eastern was among the 13 newly-created constituencies.

Of the seven contested parliamentary general elections from 1959 to 1997, the JLP won five times compared to two for the PNP. Clarendon South Eastern which evolved from the former constituency of Clarendon Southern has a unique history, in that it produced two Prime Ministers -- Sir Alexander Bustamante, 1962-1967, and Rt. Hon. Hugh Shearer, 1967-1972. In 1959 and 1962 "JLP river overflowed its banks", as Alexander Bustamante overwhelmed his PNP opponents with landslide victories. When Sir Alexander Bustamante retired in 1967 the mantle fell on Hugh Shearer to contest the newly-created Clarendon Southern seat which he won by a 2,925 majority. In the 1972 general election, the incumbent Prime Minister retained his seat in a close contest by polling 5,136 votes to 4,793 for Amador Gilman (PNP), a majority of 343.

In the 1976 Constituencies (Boundaries) realignment Clarendon Southern was removed from the parish and Clarendon South Eastern restored. Hugh Shearer contested for the JLP and defeated Ronald Powell (PNP), by 2,134 votes.

In 1980 Hugh Shearer polled 9,712 votes to defeat by a majority of 6,534, Churchill Henry (PNP), who polled 3,178 votes. There was a dramatic turnaround in 1989 when, Hugh Shearer polled 7,299 votes to 7,295 for Emanuel Cousins (PNP) 7, an unprecedented majority of four. The writing was clearly on the wall as in 1993 the master trade unionist, former Prime Minister and veteran politician lost the Clarendon South Eastern seat to Peter Bunting of the PNP. The JLP got 5,215 votes and the PNP, 6,658 - a majority 1,443. In 1997, JLP candidate Edwin Singh by polling 7,242 votes was defeated by Basil Burrell (PNP), who polled 7,296 votes - a majority of 54.

In what could then be classified as a borderline constituency the PNP eked out a very slim margin of victory. Can the PNP in 2002 make it a "hat-trick" of victories in a once JLP dominated constituency? With a slight increase in the current voters' list over the 1997 list, the JLP has an excellent chance of turning the table on the PNP in the upcoming general election. Choice of candidates will make quite a difference in the outcome of this contest. In spite of the power pendulum moving in the JLP's favour the incumbent could defy the odds.

(SUMMARY) 1959 -- 1997



E/L 20,623

B/C 12,108

A/B 11,999

R/B 109

B.H. Bridge, PNP 3,997

Hugh C. Buchanan, CIP 196

Alexander Bustamante, JLP 7,806



E/L 17,934

B/C 11,854

A/B 11,752

R/B 102

Alexander Bustamante, JLP 9,187

Fitzgerald Lambert, PNP 2,244

Eustace C. Lewis, PPP 321



E/L 13,924

B/C 11,612

A/B 11,550

R/B 62

Ronald Powell, PNP 4,708

Hugh Shearer, JLP 6,842



E/L 15,190

B/C 12,978

A/B 12,890

R/B 88

Hugh Shearer, JLP 9,712

Churchill Henry, PNP 3,178



E/L 15,190

Hugh Shearer, JLP (elected unopposed by acclamation)



E/L 19,435

B/C 14,645

A/B 14,594

R/B 51

Emanuel Cousins, PNP 7,295

Hugh Shearer, JLP 7,299



E/L 18,505

B/C 12,189

A/B 1,783

R/B 316

Peter Bunting, PNP 6,658

Hugh Shearer, JLP 5,215



E/L 23,153

B/C 15,100 (65.2%)

A/B 14,968 (99.1%)

R/B 132 ( 0.9%)

Basil Burrell, PNP 7,296 (48.7%)

Ewin Singh, JLP 7,242 (48.4%)

St. Andrade Sinclair,

NDM 430 ( 2.9%)


NOTE: E/L: Electors on List

B/C: Ballots Cast

A/B: Accepted Ballots

R/B: Rejected Ballots


Anthony Myers is a statistician and political analyst who has done work for the Electoral Office of Jamaica and for the People's National Party.