#ElectionJa – Know Your Constituency: Clarendon South Western

In 1959, as a result of an advancement in the Constitution, 45 constituencies were provided for Jamaica, an increase of 13 constituencies over the 32 which had been fixed in 1944.

Clarendon South Western was among the 13 newly-created constituencies for the July 28, 1959 general election. The parish was divided into four constituencies namely – North Western, North Eastern, South Eastern and South Western.

Of the 10 contested general elections since then, the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) has won three times to the People’s National Party’s (PNP) seven. The constituency’s first Member of Parliament (MP) was the JLP’s Rupert O Terrier, who defeated the PNP’s TG Mignott 7,016 votes to 5,996. He retained the seat in the 1962 general election, polling 8,346 to trounce his three opponents, Mervyn Harris (PNP) – 4,069, Artis Chambers (People’s Political Party) – 339, and Colin McIvor Campbell (Independent) – 70.

In 1967, the number of constituencies in the parish was increased from four to five. The boundaries were redrawn with new constituencies created. Curiously, Clarendon South Western was not included among the five constituencies. It was not until the 1976 adjustments when the number of constituencies was increased from five to six that Clarendon South Western was once again on the map. That year, the PNP’s Hugh Small defeated the JLP’s Lloyd Mears 6,452 votes to 5,031.

The following election, in 1980, the seat was returned to JLP hands as Dudley McKenley beat the PNP Rowan Skyers 6,717 to 5,999. It stayed that way after the 1983 election as well, as the PNP boycotted. However, in 1989, the PNP began an unbroken winning streak, with OD Ramtallie beating the JLP’s Arthur Williams 8,307 to 4,788. He retained the seat in the 1993 election. Charles Learmond also had a two-term hold between 1997 and 2007, before making way for current MP Noel Arscott.

Arscott’s first victory came at the expense of the JLP’s Joel Williams – who was tasting his third consecutive defeat, 6,913 votes to 5,675. In 2011, the two duked it out again, with Arscott once again prevailing 7,711 votes to 5,555.