J’cans want Patterson to retire early

According to a Jamaica Gleaner-commissioned poll, a large number 57 per cent of Jamaicans want Prime Minister-designate Portia Simpson Miller to be allowed to begin her administration as soon as possible.

Mrs. Simpson Miller grabbed the coveted prize of president of the ruling People’s National Party during a keenly fought four-man contest on February 25. She defeated PNP vice-presidents Dr. Peter Phillips and Dr. Karl Blythe, as well as regional chairman Dr. Omar Davies. Her victory has triggered tumultuous celebrations, largely among women and the working class.

In a marked departure from Jamaica’s political convention, incumbent Prime Minister, P.J. Patterson, has announced a five-week period of transition. He is likely to make his final speech to Parliament on Tuesday March 28, exactly 14 years since taking the reins of Government from his predecessor Michael Manley.

But the Jamaican public has stated its clear desire to see Mr. Patterson accelerate his departure timetable in its closing weeks, according to the findings of a survey conducted by pollster Bill Johnson across the country’s 14 parishes on March 4 and 5.

The poll sample was 1,008 citizens, with a margin of error plus or minus three per cent.

The individuals interviewed were asked if they thought Mr. Patterson should resign now or stay on as Prime Minister for another three to four weeks if he so desires. Only 38 per cent believed he should stay, while another five per cent did not know.

The breakdown of those polled indicated that 52 per cent of the sample were males, 48 per cent females, while 23 per cent had fulltime jobs. Eleven per cent had part-time jobs and 35 per cent were self-employed.

Last year, when Mr. Patterson announced the date for the People’s National Party’s (PNP) election of its new president, and consequently the nation’s new Prime Minister, he had stated that he would stay on as the head of Government for a few weeks to, in part, take the new leader on a ‘farewell caravan’ across the nation.

He also indicated that he would take the opportunity to introduce the Prime Minister-designate to world leaders in an effort to ensure a smooth transition.

However, Mr. Patterson subsequently decided, before the election, that he would not carry out those plans though sticking to his decision to stay on for about a month after his successor was named.

Mrs. Simpson Miller has indicated that she has been involved in numerous meetings with the Prime Minister since she was elected to lead the party, and that she has been briefed on matters related to her upcoming portfolio.

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