Jamaicans went to the polls on March 26, 2012 to choose 227 Parish Councillors in Local Government Elections. Preliminary counts show the People’s National Party (PNP), led by Prime Minister, Portia Simpson-Miller, demolishing the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), led by Opposition Leader, Andrew Holness, by a definitive margin of 2-1 in the electoral divisions.
These elections came just shy of three months when, on December 29, 2011, the then opposition PNP also defeated the ruling JLP by a similar 2-1 margin for constituency seats in General Elections.
Both results – reflecting the voice of the people – dictate that Jamaica is now firmly controlled politically by the PNP, under the leadership of the country’s first (and only) female Prime Minister.
Those are the facts – which you can read anywhere, as they are etched in the annals of our history. But, this is not about the facts! It is not about the low voter turnouts in both elections or even about the fact that they were the least violent that we have seen in recent history. Neither will you hear – beyond this – about the fact that – for the first time – two independent candidates were successful at the polls in national elections.
This is about a lady that Jamaicans simply call: Portia!
I woke this morning to the thought – quite inexplicably – of the Latin phrase “Vox populi, vox Dei” translated: “The voice of the people [is] the voice of God”. It got me thinking that the people of Jamaica (at least those who voted in the two elections) had spoken and their voice resounded “Portia”!
In truth, I cannot speak for the people – but it seems to me that the voters had made a definite choice for Portia, while at the same time rejecting the leader(s) of the JLP and their policies over the last four years.
Yet, my thoughts went deeper! There was also another election in February 2006 when Portia had won again. That time it was to claim the leadership of the PNP in a bitter race for a successor to former Party Leader and Prime Minister, P. J. Patterson.
There was a common element between the elections in 2006 and the one in 2011. During the campaign (according to local parlance) Portia’s opponents had ‘dissed’ her. Her opponents were soundly beaten – as too was Andrew Holness.
What is the Lesson?
Whether by perception or reality – the people see Portia as a woman from the grass roots. She climbed her way to the top. She represents what is possible for all Jamaicans (especially the women) and their children! When she walks among them, they embrace her – even as she willingly gives each and as many – a warm hug in return. The people identify with Portia!
I do not propose to judge her effectiveness as a Member of Parliament, or as a Minister, or as a Prime Minister – history will ultimately speak to those issues. But, as a politician, it is without question that she walks among the people as one of them!
For sure, it is a hard thing to lead when your followers refuse to follow. It makes the job of a leader that much easier when your people are willing to embrace you, your visions and your ideas. Portia seems to have galvanized that support from the grass roots and is reaping the benefits.
The arrogance of the JLP members aside, the hardships of the past four years aside, the smear of her own party opponents (back then) aside … one thing is certain! If you ‘diss’ Portia – you ‘diss’ the people!
We wish the prime minister and her party well; for their success in achieving good governance will redound to the benefit of the country and its citizens.
Walk good, ’til next time …