Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller at a rally of her ruling People’s National Party (PNP) on Sunday
By Caribbean News Now contributor
KINGSTON, Jamaica -- Jamaicans will go to the polls on Thursday February 25, 2016, in an early general election announced on Sunday night by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller at a rally of her ruling People’s National Party (PNP).
Parliament will be dissolved on Friday, February 5, and nomination day is set for Tuesday, February 9.
This will be the country’s 17th general election since universal adult suffrage in 1944.
Elections are constitutionally due by December, but Simpson Miller said the PNP is ready now.
She said her party is committed to a "peaceful campaign."
Simpson Miller is seeking a second consecutive term, after becoming Jamaica's first female prime minister during a previous 18-month period in office that ended in 2007.
"If you want keep Jamaica moving up, stay with the Peoples National Party," Simpson Miller said. "One good term deserves another."
She will face a challenge from the main opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), led by former prime minister Andrew Holness, who led Jamaica for just over two months before his party lost the December 2011 elections, when the PNP won 42 of the 63 seats in the House of Representatives.
Of the seats won by the PNP, 15 were won with a margin of 1,000 votes or fewer, seven of which scraped home with under 300 votes.
Three of the JLP’s 21 seats were won with fewer than 300 votes.
The PNP's slate of candidates, which was announced on Sunday evening, includes 21 first-timers, 13 women and six people who have run unsuccessfully in previous general elections.