Choosing the Date
The date was hardly a surprise for me: given his own comments leading up to the announcement and the rules governing the use of the new Voters’ List which was published on November 30, 2011.
The fact is that the new list could not be used in any elections until five (5) clear days had elapsed (not including a Sunday) – December 7. Thereafter, Nomination Day would have to be five (5) days later; and the Election Day would have to be between sixteen (16) and twenty-three (23) days after the December 7 date. Based on that calculation – the earliest date for elections would have been December 23 and the latest, December 30.
The prime minister had previously indicated that he would not disturb our Christmas (effectively December 25-27; since Christmas day falls on a Sunday and will be observed on the Monday [December 26] with Boxing Day observed on the Tuesday, December 27). However, he also indicated that we would go to the polls before the end of the year and anticipated a ‘Happy New Year’ (no pun intended). That left the period December 28-30. It would be necessary to have, at least, one working day between the holidays (December 28) – if only for additional attempts to woo ‘undecided’ voters and allow the Electoral Office to complete last minute preparations. In my mind, Friday, December 30, was an unlikely date, given that it would be the start of the weekend and persons would be looking forward to the New Year. Hence, voilà – Thursday, December 29, 2011 it is!
A Call to Boycott Elections
The date aside, I have a concern.
At least one political party, along with other person(s) on the internet, have espoused and are advocating the position that Jamaicans should not participate in these elections. Their position (paraphrased) is that there is too much corruption in the system and too many unanswered questions regarding unresolved matters that affect both major parties.
In recent blogs, I have encouraged my fellow Jamaicans to participate in the democratic process; and I do so as well in direct conversations with my peers. Too many are so disillusioned with the process that they have not even been enumerated (registered to vote); are enumerated – but have never voted; and are enumerated – but have no intentions of voting.
Their reasons are sometimes as simple as – the parties are doing nothing for me; there is no difference between the two major parties; they do not trust either party; and they do not believe that either party – when given power – can make a difference.
They may yet be right. But, I believe that – if we fail to exercise our right to vote then – we are abdicating our responsibility to choose the Government of our choice. Our personal choice may not win – but exercising our right opens the possibility that, with that one vote, our choice may in fact come out victorious.
I DO NOT subscribe to the position that the electorate should boycott the elections. We have one system and, until that is changed, we have to work with it. The elections will be held and someone will win – whether everyone votes or not. Let us legitimise the process by casting our vote and let the winner beware!
The old system of governance is fast fading. Jamaicans are now holding our politicians to their word and their actions and – in time – we pray that we will have a better (if not a perfect) system. A system where we will have “one person – one vote, same person – same vote”!
I share some of the concerns and I assure you that – who ever wins – I will make my voice be heard on what is commendable and what is abominable! That is the nature of our democratic system.
Yes, December 29 it is – VOTE and let your voice be heard!
Walk good, ’til next time …
* The two major political parties in Jamaica are the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and the Peoples National Party (PNP). The leader of the JLP (and current Prime Minister) is Andrew Holness. The leader of the PNP (and immediate past Prime Minister) is Portia Simpson Miller. She is also Jamaica’s first (and only) female prime minister (to date).