Holness-led JLP vs Golding-led PNP likely in next general elections Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

Barring any unforeseen events, Mark Golding is set to lead the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) into the next general elections, setting up a highly anticipated contest with Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) leader and Prime Minister, Andrew Holness.

The development comes after Golding was nominated unopposed for a third consecutive term as party president at the close of nominations for the post on Friday at 12pm.

In addition to Golding, the party’s four current vice-presidents have all been nominated unopposed for another term. They are Senator Donna Scott-Mottley; Spanish Town Mayor, Norman Scott; North West Manchester Member of Parliament (MP), Mikael Phillips; and party caretaker for Western Westmoreland, Ian Hayles.

“A change in the (PNP’s) constitution now mandates a two-year term of office for the president and vice-presidents, therefore, after their nominations are ratified at our annual conference in September, this slate of officers will serve for the 2023-2025 political term,” said a release from the party on Friday.

With the next general elections being constitutionally due by September 2025, it is highly expected that Golding will lead the PNP into the poll for the first time as its president.

“Golding said he is enthusiastic about leading the party into the next election, and that he is confident in our eventual victory and ability to steer Jamaica in a new and positive direction,” stated the PNP on Friday.

The former senator and justice minister, and now current MP for South St Andrew, first became the sixth PNP president after he defeated South East St Ann MP, Lisa Hanna, in November 2020 in a contentious battle for leadership of the Opposition party.

The post became vacant after Dr Peter Phillips stepped down as PNP president following a bruising 14-49-seat defeat by the JLP in the September 2020 General Elections.

Golding’s leadership has been dogged by suggestions of disunity in the party, and criticisms of his own leadership style relative to purportedly placing persons who supported him in his bid for party president in prominent roles within the political organisation.

The selection process for candidates in various constituencies have also been widely contentious.

There were even rumours being peddled on social media that Golding would be challenged for the post of PNP president this year, as was the case since he assumed the role of party leader, but with the close of nominations for the role this year, those suggestions have proven to be unfounded.

Golding meanwhile, is on a political high, as the findings of a recent PNP-commissioned Don Anderson poll showed the Opposition party leading the governing JLP by just over five percentage points, expanding its lead since a February opinion poll.

The findings relative to the party standing by the Don Anderson poll, released two weeks ago, indicated that 30.2 per cent of electors would mark their ballots for the Opposition party, while 25 per cent indicated a preference for the JLP.

While that finding was well celebrated by PNP supporters, many of them have ignored an eye-opening finding that Golding has lost ground in his positive favourability ratings among Jamaicans, with only 12.1 per cent viewing him as ‘very good’ or ‘good’.

In the same positivity rating in the February 2023 opinion poll, 14.7 per cent of respondents viewed Golding ‘very good’ or ‘good’.

Aside from those issues, it appears that PNP supporters and MPs are willing to give Golding the nod to lead them forward with Local Government Elections expected by February 2024, and the national polls the following year.

According to the PNP’s release on Friday, Golding’s “uncontested election comes at a crucial time for the party as we strive to address the challenges faced by Jamaica and advocate for the needs and aspirations of our citizens.”

Nominations for the posts of PNP president and vice-president opened on Monday, July 3, 2023, and PNP General Secretary, Dr Dayton Campbell, applauded comrades for a smooth nomination process.

“The PNP fully welcomes the nomination of Comrade Mark Golding as our presidential candidate, as he embodies the ideals and visions of our party,” said Campbell.

“We have every confidence in his leadership, and look forward to his continued guidance.

“With the support of our four vice-presidents, we will present a strong team working together to achieve equality, economic progress and a better future for all Jamaicans,” Campbell added.

In response to his nomination, Golding expressed gratitude to everyone who signed his nomination form.

He said he felt strengthened by the confidence that has been bestowed on him by party members.

The Opposition party suggested that Golding also recognises that Jamaica is looking to the PNP for a new direction and an opportunity for the country to move forward.