The fallout from the violent 2010 siege intended to capture Jamaican drug trafficker Christopher “Dudus” Coke continues to have repercussions on the island’s politics. In the final results for the general election held December 29 and released Tuesday, voters delivered a stinging rebuke to the incumbent Labor Party, which won just 22 seats in Parliament. Opposition the People’s National Party (PNP) took 42 seats and will see former prime minister, Portia Simpson Millter, assume power once again. The landslide election results have been called surprising because surveys showed the two parties in a dead heat just before voters went to the polls.
Coke was a crime “don” who controlled the western neighborhood of Tivoli Gardens in Kingston since the 1990s. Typical for “dons,” he was believed responsible for driving out the vote in Tivoli Gardens, which has long leaned in favor for the Labor Party. The violent September 2010 siege in Tivoli Gardens, which left over 70 people dead, only fueled more public discontent with the Labor Party administration. Ex-Prime Minister Golding stepped down in October 2011, and the December general election delivered the final blow against Labor.
Other security and economic problems in Jamaica may have helped turned voters back to the PNP. Jamaica has one of the highest murder rates in the Caribbean, with 52 murders per 100,000 inhabitants, on an island of just under 3 million people. Joblessness and a listless economy were other top issues.
The question now is whether with such a strong majority in Congress, the PNP will have the gravitas to institute serious policy changes. Previously, when Congress was more closely divided, it was more difficult to push legislation through. Now it will be tougher for the PNP to blame Labor Party opposition, if Jamaica does not start seeing improvements in security or the economy soon.
The election results in Jamaica reflect a larger trend across the Caribbean which has seen the ejection of incumbent parties in power, says the Herald. Such is the case for elections in Trinidad, Haiti, Guyana and St. Lucia.
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- The Washington Post counts 12,000 people killed in drug violence in Mexico last year.
- Foreign Policy has a fluffy piece examining why the Iowa caucus near-winner Rick Santorum constantly refers to his views on Latin American policy, especially in relation to Honduras.
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- At the Christian Science Monitor Latin America blog, blogger Greg Michener examines why Brazil’s ongoing economic growth may mean little if the country doesn’t start improving productivity rates.
- InSight Crime examines security prospects for Honduras in 2012, Central America’s most unstable and violence-plagued country.
- BBC Mundo notes that the judges selected by popular election in Bolivia last October have now been sworn into some of the highest judicial positions in the country.