Elezioni parlamentari in Giamaica
GIAMAICA, SI VOTA PER LE ELEZIONI PARLAMENTARI. DAI SONDAGGI SI DENOTA GRANDE EQUILIBRIO (29.12.2011) Clandestinoweb
Oggi alle 7 (le 13 in Italia) si aprono le urne in Giamaica per le elezioni parlamentari che determineranno chi guidera' il Paese nel prossimo quinquennio. I candidati sono Andrew Holness, 39enne esponente del partito laburista di centro-destra, che 2 mesi fa ha sostituito il dimissionario Bruce Golding, e Portia Simpson Miller, 66enne del Partito nazionale del popolo. Secondo i sondaggi sara' uno scontro all'ultimo voto molto incerto.
Il programma di Holness da molto rilievo al tema del lavoro. promette nuovi impieghi e assicura un ulteriore calo del tasso di disoccupazione che attualmente e' al 13%. "I giamaicani - ha detto nell'ultimo discorso alla nazione - sono ora piu' al sicuro, la nostra economia stabile con una solida base per la creazione di posti di lavoro".
Per la Miller il suo rivale e' un leader indeciso di un partito corrotto. "Non sara' solo una vittoria, ma un annientamento del Partito laburista della Giamaica" e' il suo grido di battaglia.
Chi uscira' vincitore dalla tornata elettorale dovra' confrontarsi con le difficolta' economiche di enorme portata che caratterizzano il Paese, in cui vivono 2,8 milioni di persone. Il debito pubblico ha raggiunto il 130% del Pil.
Giamaica al voto per scegliere il nuovo primo ministro (29.12.2011) LaPresse
Si aprono oggi alle 7 (le 13 in Italia) le urne in Giamaica per le elezioni parlamentari che determineranno chi guiderà il Paese per i prossimi cinque anni. A scontrarsi per la carica di primo ministro sono l'attuale premier, il 39enne Andrew Holness, per il Partito laburista di centro-destra, che solo due mesi fa ha sostituito il dimissionario Bruce Golding, e la 66enne Portia Simpson Miller, veterana del Partito nazionale del popolo fin dagli anni '70. I sondaggi prevedono una lotta serrata e i candidati si sono battuti fino all'ultimo per catturare i voti degli indecisi.
Holness ha provato a concentrarsi soprattutto sul tema del lavoro, promettendo nuovi impieghi nel Paese dove il tasso di disoccupazione è del 13%. "I giamaicani - ha detto nell'ultimo appello alla nazione - sono ora più al sicuro, la nostra economia è stabile con una solida base per la creazione di posti di lavoro". Il giovane leader, visto da molti come calmo e pragmatico, sostiene che il suo partito abbia iniziato a invertire la stagnazione economica e battuto con efficacia le bande criminali che a lungo hanno terrorizzato il Paese. Holness ha anche promesso di modernizzare il settore pubblico senza licenziamenti di massa. Gli avversari del Partito nazionale del popolo, sostiene, hanno invece mal gestito l'economia nei loro 18 anni di governo fino al 2007, portando a una svalutazione del dollaro giamaicano, che ha tagliato il potere di acquisto e il tenore di vita della popolazione. La Miller ha invece dipinto Holness come un leader indeciso e il suo partito come corrotto e indifferente alla situazione di molti abitanti poveri della Giamaica. "Non sarà solo una vittoria, ma un annientamento del Partito laburista della Giamaica", ha detto davanti a una folla di sostenitori vestiti di arancione, il colore del Partito nazionale del popolo. Nata nelle campagne povere e cresciuta in un ghetto di Kingston, conosciuta come 'Sista P' o come 'Compagna leader', la Miller è nota per lo stile dei suoi discorsi e per la grande capacità di interagire con la folla. Ma i suoi avversari sostengono che il suo stile sia molto superficiale e che, durante la sua permanenza in carica come primo ministro tra il marzo 2006 e il settembre 2007, non sia stata all'altezza del ruolo.
Il vincitore delle elezioni di oggi, dovrà affrontare soprattutto i problemi economici del Paese dove vivono 2,8 milioni di persone e dove il debito ha raggiunto il 130% del Pil. Non sono pochi i timori di tensioni. Migliaia di poliziotti e soldati sono stati infatti schierati per le strade per garantire la sicurezza. Durante l'avvicinamento alle elezioni del 1980, oltre 800 persone sono state uccise negli scontri scoppiati tra le varie fazioni. Da allora, tuttavia, le violenze politiche sono diminuite e gli omicidi sono da attribuire soprattutto a casi di narcotraffico ed estorsione. I sondaggi sono indecisi. La redazione politica del Jamaica Gleaner, il principale giornale del Paese, ha stimato che i laburisti riusciranno a vincere conquistando 34 dei 63 seggi in palio, contro i 29 del Pnp.
Jamaicans vote in tight election for PM (29.12.2011) Afp
Jamaicans worried about high unemployment, crime and corruption headed to the polls Thursday on the tourism-dependent Caribbean island, with their young prime minister's job on the line.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness, at 39 the youngest person ever to lead the laid-back, palm-fringed former British colony of just under three million, is the standard-bearer of the center-right Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).
His rival, Jamaica's first female prime minister and the leader of the left-leaning People's National Party (PNP), Portia Simpson Miller, is seeking a return to the helm four years after narrowly losing her re-election bid.
Previous Jamaican elections have been marred by violence but Thursday's voting got off to a mainly smooth start. Early turnout appeared to be brisk in what is seen as a tight race.
Even before the polls opened at 7:00 am (1200 GMT), vehicles with loudspeakers roamed the streets of the capital Kingston, urging people to vote for either the JLP or the PNP.
While Jamaican law prohibits such last-minute propaganda after the official end of the campaign, the proceedings were largely orderly in most districts.
Police reported a shooting in the Saint Catherine constituency in the country's southeast, but no one was hurt and the suspect was arrested in an incident officials did not believe to be politically motivated.
With Holness and Simpson Miller both predicting victory, throngs of supporters dressed in party colors were seen celebrating in some sections of western Jamaica.
In Trenchtown, a Kingston PNP bastion, voters flooded polling stations dressed in orange T-shirts, the color of the opposition party. Shops there were closed for two hours Thursday to allow employees to vote.
Just over 1.6 million voters are registered in the 63 constituencies and expectations are that voter turn out will exceed the just over 60 percent from 2007.
Polls conducted by Don Anderson -- who has correctly called the last three elections here -- showed the opposition PNP marginally ahead up to late last week, but most pollsters say the race is too close to call. On Tuesday the island's oldest newspaper, the Gleaner, gave the nod to JLP by 34 constituencies to 29.
In the final hours of campaigning Tuesday, Holness, who assumed office on October 23 when Bruce Golding stepped down under pressure, concentrated on Kingston, the sprawling capital.
Golding, who led the JLP to victory in 2007, resigned in the political fallout from the government's fight against the extradition to the United States of Christopher 'Dudus' Coke, reportedly the former leader of the Shower Posse, a gang aligned to the JLP.
When authorities moved on some of Kingston's poorest and most crime-ridden areas in May 2010, a massive operation left 76 Jamaicans dead. The gang's link to the JLP has hurt its sway in poor areas still traumatized by the incident.
Simpson Miller, 66, was in the western end of the island this week, campaigning via helicopter to shore up two key constituencies.
When campaigning officially ended at midnight Tuesday, gunfire rang out at a JLP event in Westmoreland. One party supporter was killed and two others were wounded, authorities said. Both candidates condemned the violence.
While the police have cited figures showing a decline in violent crimes such as murder, voters remain deeply concerned over street crime, as well as jobs and corruption in the public sector.
Jamaïque: élections sous tension avant un scrutin qui s'annonce serré (29.12.2011) Afp
Les Jamaïcains se rendent jeudi aux urnes pour élire le nouveau parlement, trois mois après la démission du premier ministre Bruce Golding, dans un climat d'incertitude politique marqué par des violences en fin de campagne électorale.
Selon les sondages, le scrutin qui oppose le Parti travailliste (JLP) au Parti national du peuple (PNP), au pouvoir pendant 18 ans avant la victoire des travaillistes en 2007, pourrait être très serré.
Ces élections ont été provoquées par la démission du Premier ministre travailliste Bruce Golding en septembre 2011, suite à sa mauvaise gestion de l'extradition fin mai 2010 vers les Etats-Unis du baron présumé de la drogue jamaïcain Christopher Coke, surnommé "Dudus".
La traque du narcotrafiquant présumé par les autorités jamaïcaines avait provoqué de violents affrontements en mai 2010 à Kingston entre police et armée d'un côté, et affidés de "Dudus" de l'autre, qui avaient fait au moins 76 morts, obligeant le gouvernement à proclamer l'état d'urgence.
Théoriquement, les élections auraient dû se tenir en septembre 2012, mais Andrew Holness, 39 ans, entré en fonctions après la démission de Bruce Golding, avait souhaité les avancer pour assurer sa légitimité.
Dix-huit mois après la fin de l'état d'urgence, la campagne électorale s'est officiellement achevée mardi à minuit dans la violence, une fusillade ayant éclaté lors d'un rassemblement du JLP à Westmoreland, à l'ouest de l'île. Un militant du parti a été tué et deux autres grièvement blessés.
Le Premier ministre travailliste Andrew Holness, et la candidate du parti du PNP Portia Simpson Miller ont tous deux condamné cet incident. Si aucun couvre-feu n'a été instauré dans les zones sensibles de l'île, les forces de l'ordre sont largement mobilisées dans tout le pays.
Le scrutin s'annonce serré mais le souvenir du traumatisme lié à l'extradition de "Dudus" risque de peser au moment de décider du bulletin à glisser dans les urnes.
"Mon grand-père a voté JLP, mon père a voté JLP, j'ai toujours voté JLP, mais j'ai perdu trois enfants en mai 2010, alors je voterai PNP ou rien", déclare par exemple à l'AFP un habitant de Tivoli Gardens, un bastion où le JLP a pu rassembler jusqu'à 95% de voix lors de précédentes élections.
Jamaica set for tight general election (28.12.2011) BBC
Jamaica holds a general election on 29 December amid signs that the country is set for another close race between the two main parties, as the BBC's Nick Davis finds on a tour around the island.
For many Jamaicans, the cheapest way to get around is by the fixed-route taxis that travel between communities.
As I climb into a car in the central town of Mandeville, the driver tells me it is only half an hour to Christiana.
But within minutes we are in a two-hour traffic jam as an election convoy snakes its way slowly around this rural part of Jamaica.
Supporters of the governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), dressed in the party's green, hang out of car and minibus windows ringing bells, blowing horns, waving flags and singing along to songs urging people to vote for Labour.
The opposition People's National Party (PNP) have also mustered their supporters, dressed head to foot in bright orange.
Both parties' backers have taken to the roads in what has turned out to be a surprisingly close campaign.
Some months back, the JLP looked set to take a drubbing in the election which had to be held by September 2012.
But Prime Minister Bruce Golding, heavily criticised for his handling of a US request to extradite a drug gang leader, stepped aside.
That cleared the way for Andrew Holness, 39, to become JLP leader and to be sworn in as Jamaica's ninth, and youngest, prime minister.
His popularity has boosted the JLP, and they have caught up with the PNP in the opinion polls.
For many voters, the state of the economy is the major issue.
Jamaica has one of the worst debt burdens in the world, at 130% of GDP. Unemployment is running at 12.3%.
Crime is also a key concern. However, since a brief state of emergency was imposed in 2010, murders have been declining, and are down 25% over the past year.
The politically motivated deaths that reached an all-time high in 1980 when more than 800 people lost their lives are a thing of the past.
But if political violence has declined, buying political influence seemingly continues.
Food, phone cards for mobiles and outright offers of cash are among the inducements alleged to have been distributed in some constituencies.
PNP leader Portia Simpson Miller has spoken out against vote-buying, as has the JLP.
Dr Herbert Gayle, an anthropologist from the University of the West Indies, conducted a study into vote-buying.
Among the evidence his team uncovered were vouchers for hardware stores and party T-shirts people were given after being paid to attend rallies.
"It may not be directly buying their vote but they're presenting a sea of orange or of green and that can give them a psychological advantage that can make the difference," said Dr Gayle.
But the head of the Electoral Commission, Prof Errol Miller, plays down concerns that voters are being paid to choose one candidate over another.
Parliament has banned the use of mobile phones and digital and video cameras in polling stations to keep electoral choices a secret.
There is no way party members can know who voters elect, Prof Miller says.
"So if people are vote-buying, they are giving money to a voter and nothing can be assured."
Head of state
The two main parties have broadly similar manifestos, including reaching a new deal with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), cutting the public sector wage bill and attracting more investment.
So with the race to lead the country so tight, swing voters are key.
During the final party leaders' debate a week ago, coachloads of supporters watched events on a giant screen erected outside the venue at the University of the West Indies.
When Mrs Simpson Miller finished her opening statement, the PNP backers toasted her with glasses of wine and booed when Mr Holness came to speak.
Inside the TV studio, all was set for a big showdown.
Mrs Simpson Miller is not viewed as a great debater but with the JLP's 2007 election promise of "jobs, jobs, jobs" unfulfilled, she was expected to launch an aggressive attack on the government.
But that never came and there was no knockout moment from Mr Holness either.
Both agreed that with Jamaica set to mark 50 years of independence from the United Kingdom in 2012, it was time to look at the constitution and the role of the Queen as head of state.
Mrs Simpson-Miller said she would revisit the law that bans homosexuality in Jamaica if she were re-elected.
But observers say that undecided voters saw little to sway them one way or another. The political tribalism that was once so ingrained is now in danger of becoming apathy.
Jamaica saw landslide victories in elections until 2002, when the PNP won by a narrow margin, and in 2007 when the JLP took power. This year is expected to be even closer.
Jamaica's youngest leader in tough re-election bid (29.12.2011) Ap
From beach resort towns to mountain villages, Jamaicans braved bottlenecks for as long as four hours Thursday to cast ballots in fiercely contested national elections. Previous votes have been marred by bloodshed, but there were few reports of trouble at polling centers for the 63 parliamentary races contested by the center-right Jamaica Labor Party and the slightly left-leaning opposition People's National Party.
The vote hit some snags as fingerprint scanners meant to stop people from voting more than once worked intermittently, leading to lengthy lines at some of the roughly 6,600 polling centers in the island country.
The breakdown spurred confusion and frustration among voters and election workers. At one polling center in the volatile Tower Hill area of Kingston, exasperated people who had waited in line for hours chanted: "The machines don't work!"
The People's National Party has tried tapping into voter disillusionment, especially among Jamaica's many poor inhabitants, and complained of the slow voting process Thursday. The party also alleged that some ruling party candidates violated rules by campaigning on election day.
Lisa Shoman, the Belizean chief of the observer mission for the Organization of American States, said her 25-member team has not observed "any disturbances or any issues that would cause us any serious concern."
Military helicopters flew over the capital of Kingston as part of a nationwide security operation involving thousands of soldiers, police and national reserve forces. Soldiers with automatic weapons kept watch over the two polling stations where Prime Minister Andrew Holness and opposition leader Portia Simpson Miller cast their ballots.
The two top candidates' different styles were clear while they cast their votes.
Holness, who's the country's youngest ever leader at age 39, is largely seen as unexciting, but bright and pragmatic. He whisked into the voting center in the middle class area of Mona, barely interacting with voters. After being heckled by an opposition partisan, he said he was "very confident" of a Labor victory and departed after quickly taking three questions from reporters.
By contrast, the 66-year-old Simpson Miller, who had been the country's first female prime minister, hugged and chatted with supporters at a school in Whitfield Town, most of them clad in the party's orange.
Holness' party is considered more conservative and business friendly than the People's National Party, which experimented with democratic socialism in the 1970s and is still perceived as more focused on social programs for the poor. There are no longer stark ideological differences between the two clan-like factions that have dominated Jamaican politics since independence from Britain in 1962.
During the monthlong campaign in the thick of the crucial winter tourist season, both parties pledged to lift debt-wracked Jamaica out of poverty, secure foreign investment, work with international lenders and create jobs.
Most opinion polls put the two parties in a virtual dead heat, and candidates have scrambled for traction with undecided voters across the Caribbean island known as the birthplace of reggae and a hothouse for big-time sprinters.
Holness was chosen as prime minister by his party just two months ago when predecessor Bruce Golding resigned amid anemic public backing. Holness has promised new jobs in a nation with about 13 percent unemployment.
"Jamaicans are now safer, our economy is stable with a solid foundation for job creation," Holness said in a last-minute national address.
Holness said his party has started to reverse economic stagnation and has effectively battled criminal gangs that have long been a scourge. He has also pledged to modernize the bloated public sector without massive layoffs.
He argues that the now-opposition party mismanaged the economy over its 18-year-tenure until its 2007 election loss, and has warned that its win would scare away foreign investment and dash hopes of economic progress.
Simpson Miller, a People's National Party stalwart since its days as a democratic socialist faction, has dismissed Holness as indecisive and painted his party as hopelessly corrupt and unsympathetic to the plight of Jamaica's many poor inhabitants.
Simpson Miller, whose party's supporters refer to themselves as "comrades," was born in rural poverty and grew up in a Kingston ghetto, not far from the crumbling concrete jungle made famous by Bob Marley. Also referred to as "Sista P" and "Comrade Leader," she is known for her plain speaking style and warm interactions with supporters.
But detractors say she was out of her depth during her brief tenure as Jamaica's first female prime minister between March 2006 to September 2007, when her party was narrowly voted out of power.
The winner will face deep economic problems in this island of 2.8 million people, with a punishing debt of roughly $18.6 billion, or 130 per cent of gross domestic product. That's a rate about 10 percentage points higher than debt-troubled Italy's.
Jamaica's economy has been on a meager upswing, but roughly 60 percent of government spending still goes to debt payments and another 30 percent pays wages. That leaves just 10 percent for education, health, security and other parts of the budget.
Nonetheless, the monthlong campaign often had a festive feel as cheering, horn-honking caravans of partisans attended packed rallies, waving banners and dancing to reggae tunes pounding out of big speakers.
Political Ombudsman Bishop Herro Blair said the campaign was one of the "best we've ever had" in Jamaica, with just three deaths and about a half dozen injuries that he says investigators might determine were politically motivated.
In the lead-up to the 1980 elections, more than 800 people were killed in political clashes. Since then, large-scale political violence has dissipated and most killings are blamed on the drug and extortion trade.
Complaints about Labor were still flying Thursday among the hardcore opposition supporters in Bob Marley's gritty old neighborhood of Trench Town, where goats graze along tightly packed concrete homes.
"They won't do nothing for us cause they don't care. Labor isn't for the ghetto people," said Trishette Bond, a twenty-something resident who wore an orange shirt and a bright orange wig to show her allegiance to the People's National Party.
In a Labor-aligned slum in the East Kingston area of Mountain View, a 46-year-old man who only gave his name as Russ said the youthful Holness deserved a mandate to lead Jamaica in a better direction.
"The (People's National Party) mashed up this country for a long time. We can't go back to that," he said. "It's young people time now."
Jamaica's youngest premier seeks mandate at polls (29.12.2011) Reuters
Jamaicans cast ballots on Thursday in a closely contested general election as Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who has been in office just two months, seeks a popular mandate to tackle the Caribbean country's deepening economic woes.
Polls show Jamaica's two longtime dominant parties, the ruling Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and the People's National Party (PNP), running neck-and-neck in a vote focused on the island's stagnant and debt-ridden economy.
Police and soldiers stood guard at polling stations across Jamaica. Despite a history of election violence, the run-up to the vote was one of the most peaceful in years.
Holness, a 39-year-old former education minister, hopes to keep the center-right ruling party in power for a second consecutive term.
The country's youngest-ever prime minister, he took office in October after the party suffered a blow when his predecessor surprisingly resigned.
The PNP is led by Portia Simpson Miller, a former prime minister who became Jamaica's first female leader in 2006 and has vowed to make Holness one of the shortest-serving premiers in the island nation's history.
The winner of the election will face the stiff challenge of re-invigorating the economy in one of the world's most indebted countries.
Polls close at 5 p.m. EST and the Electoral Commission of Jamaica was expected to announce the winning party, based on preliminary official results, sometime before midnight.
Although one of the Caribbean's more developed economies, Jamaica is saddled with a public debt load now totaling more than 120 percent of its gross domestic product.
Its burdensome debt has proved a drag on the economy, which is dependent on tourism and has failed to grow over the past four years, sputtering since the JLP took power.
Unemployment has risen from 9.8 percent in 2007 to 12.9 percent.
Devon Jameson, a 31-year-old accountant, said the struggling economy led him to vote for the opposition.
"The JLP has wrecked this country with its poor economic policies," he said. "Our national debt is growing, unemployment is rising and poverty is getting worse."
Analysts say the new government will likely be forced to implement unpopular austerity measures, including possible layoffs of state workers, in an effort to shore up the economy after it received a $1.27 billion lifeline from the International Monetary Fund last year.
Holness pledged on the campaign trail to spur the economy by attracting private investment to infrastructure projects. He also said the ruling party had successfully reduced crime in a country long plagued by criminal gangs.
Simpson Miller vowed if elected to appeal to the IMF to extend the period Jamaica has to repay any loans to hand authorities more leeway to jump-start the economy.
She voiced confidence her party would triumph as she voted at a school in the capital of Kingston. "I feel a wind of change blowing across Jamaica," she told reporters.
The election comes a year earlier than originally scheduled.
Worried about the global economic outlook and its implications for Jamaica, Holness called the vote in early December only weeks after being sworn in as prime minister.
Holness was chosen by JLP lawmakers after former Prime Minister Bruce Golding resigned over fallout from his handling of a U.S. request for the extradition of a notorious Jamaican gang leader.
After initially fighting Christopher "Dudus" Coke's extradition to New York on drug-trafficking charges, Golding's administration bowed to U.S. pressure in May 2010 and sent police and the military into Kingston's slums to take him into custody.
Seventy-six people died in ensuing gun battles between government forces and supporters of Coke, once a strong JLP supporter who wielded powerful influence in the slums.
If Holness and the JLP lose the election, it would mark the first time Jamaicans voted out an incumbent government after only one term.
A defeat would also make Holness one of the shortest-serving prime ministers in Jamaican history. That record would still be held by Donald Sangster, who took office in February 1967 but died of illness less than two months later.