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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06KINGSTON2189
2006-11-07 19:04:00
UNCLASSIFIED
Embassy Kingston
Cable title:  

JAMAICA: NEW POLL SHOWS RULING PNP AND OPPOSITION

Tags:   PGOV  PREL  PINR  SOCI  ECON  ENRG  KCOR  JM  XL  XK 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXRO2423
PP RUEHGR
DE RUEHKG #2189/01 3111904
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 071904Z NOV 06 ZDK
FM AMEMBASSY KINGSTON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3881
INFO RUCNCOM/EC CARICOM COLLECTIVE
RUEHZA/ARA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE
						UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KINGSTON 002189 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR WHA/CAR (RANDALL BUDDEN)

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR SOCI ECON ENRG KCOR JM XL XK
SUBJECT: JAMAICA: NEW POLL SHOWS RULING PNP AND OPPOSITION
JLP PARTIES TIED IN PUBLIC SUPPORT

REF: A. A. KINGSTON 1286

B. B. KINGSTON 2020

C. C. KINGSTON 2021

D. D. KINGSTON 1298

SUMMARY AND ANALYSIS
---------------------


UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KINGSTON 002189

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR WHA/CAR (RANDALL BUDDEN)

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL PINR SOCI ECON ENRG KCOR JM XL XK
SUBJECT: JAMAICA: NEW POLL SHOWS RULING PNP AND OPPOSITION
JLP PARTIES TIED IN PUBLIC SUPPORT

REF: A. A. KINGSTON 1286

B. B. KINGSTON 2020

C. C. KINGSTON 2021

D. D. KINGSTON 1298

SUMMARY AND ANALYSIS
--------------



1. (U) The ruling People's National Party (PNP) and
opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) are tied for public
support at 32 percent each, according to the latest Bill
Johnson poll commissioned by the Jamaica Gleaner newspaper.
Since Portia Simpson Miller (PSM) became head of the PNP and
Prime Minister in March, her popularity, as well as that of
her Party, has eroded significantly. A series of scandals
and questions regarding her overall "fitness" to run the
government have contributed to PSM's - and her party's -
slippage. She now faces a difficult dilemma: whether to call
elections soon to capitalize on her remaining popularity, or
wait until mid-2007 in hopes that a successful Cricket World
Cup and associated work programs and infrastructure
improvements will have impressed the electorate. Her choice
is now a question of intense speculation throughout the
country. Privately, she must wish she had held elections
straightaway upon becoming Prime Minister, when she almost
certainly would have won in a landslide.
End Summary and Analysis.

--------------
THE PNP CONTINUES TO SLIP
--------------


2. (U) A new Gleaner-commissioned Bill Johnson poll released
on November 5 interviewed 1,008 eligible voters in 84
communities throughout Jamaica's 14 parishes. The poll has a
margin of error of plus or minus three percent. This is the
fourth poll conducted by Bill Johnson Polls since the
election of PSM to head the PNP.


3. (SBU) Public support for the PNP has fallen steadily from
a high of 52 percent in March to 32 percent. Several

scandals and one very public "doodle" appear to have
contributed to the PNP's (and PSM's) downward slide. The
cement scandal (ref A) has, according to the Planning
Institute of Jamaica, left approximately 30,000 construction
workers temporarily unemployed. In addition, recent riots in
parts of Kingston have been linked by some contacts to the
cement debacle and a possible intraparty conflict between
Industry and Commerce Minister Phillip Paulwell and
supporters of PSM over the future distribution of cement jobs
(ASDAR). PSM has not burnished her image by publicly
supporting Minister Paulwell despite widespread belief that
he mismanaged the entire cement imbroglio.


4. (U) The Trafigura scandal (Refs B,C) also is hanging over
the head of the PNP. The Party accepted a JMD 31 million
(approximately USD 475,000) "gift" from a Dutch-based oil
trading firm. This affair has led to the resignation of
Minister for Information and Development Colin Campbell, a
close ally of PSM. The possible misuse of Petrocaribe funds
(Ref D), as well as ongoing concerns about crime and
corruption, round-out the list of reasons for the decline of
the PNP's popular support. The Party also is hampered by
internal dissent. Recently, four PNP candidates selected to
run in the next elections resigned in protest over the
replacement of a longtime PNP representative in South East
St. Elizabeth; the Party is replacing him with a former
JLP-member and independent Senator.


5. (U) Beyond the PNP, PSM seems to be at least partially
responsible for the slide in popular support. Her favorable
opinion has slipped from 60 percent to 54 percent. According
to pollster Bill Johnson, the scandals themselves have not
hurt her as much as her missteps. PSM recently canceled a
trip to Europe and meetings with the EU Commissioner and the
Vatican. Speculation abounds in the media that PSM canceled
the trip because of fear she might be asked questions she
could not answer. Finally, she was photographed in parliament
creating a "doodle" during an ongoing debate; this incident
has provided fodder for journalists and opposition leaders
alike who consider her a lightweight. Johnson believes that
PSM's falling poll numbers indicate she has not lived up to
high popular expectations. Her unfavorable numbers have
increased from 19 percent in July to 29 percent, while her
job approval rating has fallen from 55 percent in July to 49
percent.

--------------

KINGSTON 00002189 002.2 OF 002


A RAY OF HOPE FOR THE JLP?
--------------


6. (U) While the PNP continues to lose ground, the poll found
that the JLP actually has increased their popular support.
Stymied at 26 percent backing from the public since March,
the JLP finally has broken through to reach 32 percent. The
JLP launched a major campaign in July to target a number of
parishes and build ground support for the Party. With the
advent of government scandal, they also are benefiting from
being out of power for 17 years. The scandals have had
little - if any - impact on the JLP itself.


7. (U) To improve his image, Opposition Leader Bruce Golding
has embarked on a "softening" publicity campaign in which he
is pictured with his family. Golding's favorable ratings are
up to 46 percent; however, they had been as high as 50
percent in May. His unfavorable rating is currently at 20
percent -- down from a high of 30 percent in May.
Johnson