Jamaica Election update: Who are the principal candidates?
Prime Minister Andrew Holness (L) and Portia Simpson-Miller, the leader of the Opposition People’s National Party. PHOTO/HAMZAOUI/AFP/Getty Images
A look at the prime minister candidates for Jamaica’s two main political parties.
Andrew Holness: The candidate of the ruling center-right Jamaica Labor Party (JLP), Holness, 39, is the youngest prime minister in Jamaica’s history. The island’s No. 1 politician for the past two months, he also risks being the country’s shortest serving leader. Born to working class parents in the southern city of Spanish Town, Holness became a lawmaker at age 25. He became Jamaica’s No. 1 politician when Bruce Golding, Jamaica’s prime minister since 2007, stepped down in October amid anemic public backing. Labor Party lawmakers unanimously chose Holness as their party’s leader during a seamless transition. He has described himself as both “pro-business” and “pro-people” and has said he hopes to ease Jamaica’s severe poverty by creating jobs and improving access to education. He has called for a “new era of responsibility,” but there are concerns that he is not providing citizens with a clear picture of the island’s dire fiscal straits.
Portia Simpson-Miller: The top opposition candidate, Simpson Miller has been a stalwart of the People’s National Party (PNP) since the 1970s. The 66-year-old Simpson-Miller was first elected to Parliament in 1976 and became a Cabinet member in 1989. She became Jamaica’s first female prime minister in March 2006 after she was picked by party delegates when P.J. Patterson retired as leader. Supporters admire Simpson-Miller as a Jamaican who was born in rural poverty and grew up in a Kingston ghetto, not far from the crumbling concrete jungle made famous by Bob Marley. Also referred to as “Sista P” and “Comrade Leader,” she is known for her folksy style. During her brief tenure as prime minister, her support waned amid complaints she responded poorly to Hurricane Dean.
Copyright 2011 The Associated Press.