#JaVotes2016 – Know Your Constituencies: St Elizabeth

St Elizabeth North Western

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The old Ipswich train station

In 1959 as a result of an advancement in the Constitution, 45 constituencies were provided for in Jamaica, an increase of 13 constituencies over the 32 constituencies which had been fixed from 1944. The parish of St Elizabeth got two additional constituencies. The boundaries were redrawn and new constituencies were created namely – St Elizabeth North Western, North Eastern, South Western and South Eastern.

Of the 12 contested general elections in the constituency, the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) won 10 times to the People’s National Party’s (PNP) two. In 1959, the PNP’s Gilbert Chamberlain defeated Neville C Lewis, Independent Labour, by 15 votes in an extremely close contest. During the period 1962 to 1989, the constituency was dominated by Lewis and his son, Neville B Lewis, both representing the JLP. The elder Lewis won in 1962, 1967 and 1972 while his son won in 1976, 1980 and 1989.

The PNP managed to turn the tide in the 1993 election when Melford Brown defeated Neville B Lewis 5,312 votes to 5,024. Brown had previously won the St Elizabeth South Western constituency in 1972 and 1976. In October 1995, this son of St Bess walked away from the JLP to join the newly-formed National Democratic Movement (NDM), only to retire from representative politics in 1997. The Lewis political family line continued in 1997 as Neville B Lewis’s son Toussaint unsuccessfully represented the NDM in the constituency. Toussaint received 305 votes as the JLP’s William JC Hutchinson polled 5,943 to Brown’s 5,439 and independent candidate John Ledgister’s 54.

Hutchinson retained the seat in the subsequent elections in 2002, 2007 and 2011.

The electoral divisions in the constituency are Ipswich, Lacovia and Newmarket.