Friday, December 30, 2011

Why the JLP lost–a lesson for governance

I have been seeing some of the comments by the young labourites. They range from sadness to anger and results a lot in accusing the PNP of vote buying and ballot stealing. I am almost pretty confident that both sides may have sought to engage in these nefarious activities but even if there was some of that it did not affect the results.

I think the PNP gave a solid whipping to the JLP, and there are reasons why. Primarily amongst them is that the JLP, from around two years ago, started to lose touch with the people.

When then PM Holness announced the election I said to supporters of both sides that the PNP would win the election. As far as I was concerned, the PNP was working the constituencies for far longer, there were outstanding issues in the IMF and JDIP, I think more time would be needed for the people to warm up to Holness, and an election between xmas and new year was not going to upset people’s vacations (low turnout). A low turnout is always good for the PNP because of their larger and more committed base.

It is important to remember that economies and people are primarily motivated by micro issues, and not the macro, and so the idea of the IMF programme achieving the macro targets and no consistent stimulus package being put in place, was bound to result in job losses that caused the major swing in apathy from the JLP.

As I consistently said, the IMF programme was pro-cyclical and resulted in economic contraction further than what was necessary and a big part of the contraction resulted from the tax packages.In other words too much fiscal focus.

Combined with this was public sector salary and pension issue, which created much isolation, and this combined with the economic decline / job losses from the global effects, resulted in a growing resentment of government, especially when unnecessary expenditures were reported.

The Holness factor helped but this was wiped away by the poor campaign by the JLP, especially when compared against a better one by the PNP and a PNP manifesto that communicated better despite continuing less details. Remember Jamaicans don’t read much and so the shorter pictorial PNP manifesto communicated better. The PNP also presented a younger team (even if it just perception) and the JLP focused on a younger leader, while in error focusing on attacking PSM. Add to this some slip ups during the campaign.

So in the end the people either voted against the above or didn’t vote because of it. It is important to understand that economies and people are driven by micro issues, which also means that with a more aware, and jobless, citizenry, the election would have been won by the attention of MPs and candidates in the constituency.

In the end it boiled down to the PNP having a closer connection with the people and running a better campaign, which in the end was a more positive campaign on issues than the JLP’s. So it is not that vote buying or anything like that lost the election. The answer is in the mirror.

This is also a lesson for anyone that governs Jamaica from now as Jamaicans seem to vote a lot more on representation rather than national issues.

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How much jobs was lost as a result of the contracted economy? Take a look at the real numbers.

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