LAR: JAMAICA: OPPOSITION GAINING FOR FALL ELECTION

Created: 6/27/1980

OCR scan of the original document, errors are possible

LATIN AMERICA REVIEW

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Jamaica: Opposition Gaining Cor Fall Election ummary

The moderate opposition Jamaica Labor Party (JLP) is increasing its seemingly unassailable lead over Prime Minister Manley's People's National Partyespite efforts by PNP leftists toS "destabilization" campaign and to provoke political violence. Theof evidence suggests that the JLP will win the election, that Manley will have little choice but to step down, and that ffSBjSBjasj assistance from Cuba probably will cushion but not prevent his downfall. contrast to his actions ins not fully backing the radicals' strategy.

JLP Fortunes

Fundamental political and economic instability on the islandanguineof election results. Trends favorable to the JLPto be increasing, however, as party leader Edward Seaga

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The JLP's strong position has improved in recent months,urge of urban Reliable polls show an increase in the JLP's lead fromercent toercent between November and Kay. idelypollster, who haspredicted Jamrican electionstated in March that the JLP probably would secureof theeats ir Parliament if theis basically fair, pjfjta

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lines up what ia likely the broadest base of support ever recordedamaican election campaign. The JLP can count on large majorities of thenion members and ofembers of the police and Army. Moreover, with the manpower of organized labor, itto have the financial backing of virtually the entire private sector, ij)

Political Violence

The attempt by some ruling-party leftists to provoke the JLP into violsnt confrontation reached an early peak in April wheneaet two bearinga JLP dance and killed five people. Xn the same period, thuga armed with automatic weaponsolice stetioningston ghetto in aeffort to intimidate the security forces.

blo.-wjbath widely predicted after these incidenta has not materialised, however, although isolatedviolence has continued and will likely increase aa iction approaches. The JLP has ao far maintained apline that is undercutting the ruling party's Moreover, the JLP, which has its own thuga in tiie wings and is now supported by the moat powerful umon in Jamaica, apparently has the resources to defendtrf and to outmatch Manley's supporters inret lb. fBSJ

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The security forces, however, have provided the radicals with their most surprising setback. In lata May, Jamaica's influential police union publicly demanded the removal of leftist National Security Minister Dudley Thompson after it accused him and the administration of political interference and of covering up illegal gunrunning.

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Manley, who made an early rousing defense of Thompson, apparently is now caving in to strong pressure from the JLPost of Jamaica's most influential professional groups, .'he Prime Minister!

intends to replace his increasingly controversial security minister.

Alleged Rightist Coup

Publicity following the recent arrest oflleged rightist coup plotters will provoke some local sympathy for Manley, but it isto improve his poor chances for reelection or toretext forsecurity measures against the JLP. ma

Seaga has compounded local rumors by charging that the PNP either fabricated or exaggerated the conspiracy totate of emergency. These rumors could have some basis in fact, as additional security measures would increase Manley's leverage against the opposition.

On the other hand, the largely anti-Manley Army evidently took the lead in the investigation of anand seemingly foredoomed conspiracy aainlywithin its own ranks. The accused include three junior Army officers andoncommissioned officers ledirtually unknown political rightist. Whatever its origins, however, the coup scare is havinalittle impact on the growing fortunes of the JLP.

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Henley's Hole

Henley apparently has refused to join local radicals in exploiting the coup plot as part of an alleged US "destabillratlon" campaign.

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asserted that Seaga himself was the target of political assassins and that Washington should provide theleader with tight security during his current visit to the United states. I

Manley has done little this year to restrain the anti-US pronouncements of PNP radicals* but he has kept his own rhetoric in check. While the leftists have tried to revive the US "destabilization" campaignanley has stated publicly at least twice since last November that he does not believe that the CIA is trying tohissignificant about-face concerning his once favorite whipping boy. mmmaj

Manley's influence in the preelection period will continue to be crucial, because he now represents the last obstacleadical takover of the PNP. while he has both projected and protected the leftists during his seven-year administration, he also has channeled their considerable energies away from subversion and toward support for an established political party. Ironically, the moderate forces bent on Manley's defeat now areon the Prime Minister to hold the PNP to its commitment to electoral reform and to an earlya year before the end of Manley's constitutional mandate.

Prospects

The pace of the enumeration process nowabout half the island's one million eligible voters have beenthat Manley's original target of an October election is realiatic. The JLP so far ia satisfied that the process is establishing the groundworkair election. ifjsj

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Local rumor persists that Hanley, with Cuba's help, will forestall or fix the election by inciting violence that will leadtate of emergency and to hisin power. The attempt to escalate violencewill continue to be an important element in the PHP's campaign to stop the JLP, aa well aa the principal threatair election. thugs, moreover, might help PNP radicals forcibly to hold some constituencies in an opposition sweep. That any PNP strategy canprevent the adventeaga government, however, ire increasingly doubtful.

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