#JaVotes2016 – Know Your Constituencies: Westmoreland

Westmoreland Central

Stacy Wilson adjusts a wreath at the grave of Roger Clarke in the community of Williamsfield, Central Westmoreland.
Stacy Wilson adjusts a wreath at the grave of the late Roger Clarke, former MP, in the community of Williamsfield, Westmoreland Central.

In 1959, as a result of an advancement in the constitution, 45 constituencies were provided for Jamaica, an increase of 13 over the 32 which had been fixed from 1944. Westmoreland Central was among the 13 newly-created constituencies as the parish received an additional seat.

Of the 12 contested general elections in Westmoreland Central, the People’s National Party (PNP) has won 11 times to the JLP’s one. The constituency’s first MP was Matthew Uriah Henry, who polled 7,703 votes to defeat the Jamaica Labour Party’s (JLP) Ernest Segree Lewis, who polled 5,013. Victories followed in 1962, 1972, 1976, 1989, 1993, 1997, 2002, 2007 and 2011. The JLP won in 1980, as Karam Josephs defeated the PNP’s Pearl McKoy 7,353 votes to 5,461. The PNP did not contest the 1983 snap elections, and consequently, the JLP controlled all 60 seats in Parliament between 1983 and February 1989.

The rise of the ‘four-star general,’ Dr Enoch Karl Blythe, started in 1989, as he polled 8,021 votes to defeat the JLP’s Carlton CC Jones, who polled 4,763. Dr Blythe retired from representational politics in 2007, and the PNP chose political stalwart Roger Clarke to take over the seat. Clarke polled 10,441 votes to his JLP opponent Russell Hammond’s 8,633. Come December 29, 2011, Clarke received the highest number of votes in Central Westmoreland since it was created in 1959 – 11,564, beating his JLP opponent Marlene Malaoo-Forte, who polled 8,522 by a wide margin of 3,042 votes.

Clarke passed away in 2014, and first-timer Dwayne Vaz defeated Faye Reid Jacobs 8,720 votes to 6,268 to become the new MP.

Click here to read more about the voting history of the constituency.