Many political commentators and media personalities would have us believe that the simple formula in calling a general election is merely for the Prime Minister to go to bed one night have a dream, wake up the next morning, call the General Secretary of his party and instruct him to organize a rally of the diehards; the platform from which he/she shall announce the date of the election. In fact they have consistently blamed the PNP’s 2007 electoral loss on Mrs. Simpson’s Miller bad dreaming practices and failure to follow the previously mentioned formula. However, conventional wisdom whilst romantic and seductively easy to follow is rarely if ever reality.
A thorough analysis of the PNP’s election machinery in 2007 will show that it was financially broke as the monied class had effectively deserted Mrs. Simpson-Miller. This was the same class that had backed Omar Davies in the prior presidential race. Worse Mrs. Simpson-Miller was not the choice or favourite of the party’s Parliamentary Caucus. This second issue proved to be far more damaging to her efforts as there was a genuine worry in the party that a significant number of that group would decide to not seek re-election but as things played out the key architects and communication strategists that supported Dr. Peter Phillips deserted her and ultimately the party. For some the turn of events would have given Mrs. Simpson Miller an opportunity to renew the party from her perspective and give the PNP an opportunity to change from within government. The difficulty with that analysis is that such strategies do not work under snap election timeframes worse when there is no deluge of candidates coming forward. As such the party had to delay, delay and delay until it could call the election.
For Mr. Holness there are subtle but important differences with the quandary that confronted Simpson-Miller. The first major difference being that whereas the PNP was broke in 2007 the JLP is a well oiled, well funded party but as Darryl Vaz, the Minister of Information has betrayed’ the state (Jamaica) is broke and there are no funds allocated to the Electoral Office to manage the elections. Secondly, Andrew Holness has the full backing of his Parliamentary Caucus so whilst one should expect no changes from the Golding era, there are no issues of party disunity.
The sad reality though is that slowly the JLP is beginning to lose the initiative of sitting Prime Minister Golding’s move to resign and the subsequent move by the Parliamentary group to steal the initiative on their being any contentious internal political campaigning. This is because the youth argument surrounding Andrew Holness was never quite substantive to begin with but more to the point the non-allocation of monies to the Electoral Office within the first Supplementary exercise threatens to raise questions about the very integrity of the poll “if the money isn’t found” and the time isn’t given to the Electoral Office to do its preparation work. Yet that Office isn’t the only one requiring budgetary support, the Police also are preparing theirs for submission. The consequence is that the state will have to go back to a Second supplementary exercise to increase allocations to these two entities or wait until April for the 2012/2013 Budget. Let us recall that the IMF has already begun to publicly raise doubts about the Government’s expenditure and general economic programme already and a second supplemental at this time would not allay those fears. Worse Ministries and Departments were already asked to cut to the bone in the first supplementary exercise it is impossible to see how money can be found from within existing budget lines without fatal consequences to the state.
In the end a December poll is looking highly unlikely, but so is a January February or March poll albeit less so. The dilemma is that the longer Mr. Holness waits, the deeper the recession like conditions in the United States and Europe will set in and the stronger voter resentment and apathy at home will rise. Unconfirmed reports show that internal JLP polls are already showing that the party is losing its grip in Western St. Ann and the Prime Minister designate is not particularly strong in his own constituency. Eastern St. Mary is also looking dangerously vulnerable to moving back to the PNP and there is no expectation that Westmoreland, Hanover, Manchester and Southern regions of St. Catherine will move to the Labour Party’s column.
Maybe that is the real reason the Prime Minister is rushing so fast to demit office and not any extradition request!