By Romell Eubank
The 2020 general election results came as a shock to many. Polls indicated that the Jamaica Labour Party was in a strong position to win the election but no one expected them to win by a such large margin. The opposition which went into the election with jubilation, saying “Get rid a dem” and “Sweep dem out” were ironically swept out and left with only fourteen members of parliament.
We saw many political prophecies come true. One such prophecy is Karl Samuda’s statement in parliament after the election was announced by the Prime Minister. He said “You know the good thing about it? Half of you won’t be back here after the next election.” This turned out to be true because of the twenty-nine seats they went into the election with, they were left with only fourteen, with even safe seats becoming casualties of the landslide victory.
Many will point fingers and will blame the party leader. Some will blame the party manifesto, some will argue this landslide is as a result of low voter turnout, and others will go as far as to say vote buying ensured the JLP victory by such a large margin but it’s important that we learn some lessons from this election that will prove useful going forward.
One such lesson is that ‘die-hard’ politics is now decreasing in Jamaica. In the past, I have heard of instances where persons have stated that if a literal dog is put to represent their party they would vote for the dog because of their disdain for the other party. I have often been worried about such mindset.
Now that we are seeing substantial, yet not complete changes, we no longer need to worry or be concerned about any constituency becoming enslaved to lack of development while citizens still support lazy candidates because of love for a certain party. It is a refreshing thing to know that, by and large, people will not vote based on loyalty to party founders who have long passed on, but now understand that this is a different era and that once a candidate does their duties, despite the party they represent they should earn votes.
The people vote for persons who perform their duties well. The people re-elected this government based on its track record for the past four years – from fulfilling the 1.5 tax plan, to refurbishing police stations, to the management of the COVID-19 pandemic. Caretakers like Dwight Sibblies in Northern Clarendon won based on their performance and hard work. In this specific case, since May 2018. He is known to have lobbied for water for communities in his constituency and for having frequently assisted the elderly as well as young persons in the constituency.
We also saw many People’s National Party (PNP) safe seats being lost because constituents have been long complaining about laziness from their MPs. Members of Parliament and MP Caretakers now understand that they will reap what they sow. If they sow hard work and dedication, they will reap success. If they sow laziness, they will be ‘swept’ out.
The political landscape is changing. People want action, not pretty speeches, cute videos or handouts. People now vote for infrastructural improvements, increases in job opportunities and other necessities. Many will push the narrative that this election was won based on vote buying, but if we look at the fact that safe seats have been lost, that is, ‘safe’ seats in constituencies where people have been complaining about their MPs for decades, it can easily be realized that our electorate has become more mature. Each Member of Parliament must now realize that there is no room for complacency.
This is the type of politics we have been waiting for.
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