Jamaica's ruling party has been re-elected in a landslide win marked by low turnout, prompting Prime Minister Andrew Holness to vow to work on restoring voters' trust in politics and continue fighting the country's coronavirus outbreak.
The centre-right Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), which won praise for its stewardship of the economy, won 49 of 63 seats, an addition of 16 seats, according to an early count by the Electoral Office.
"There is cause for celebration, but there is also significant cause for consideration," Holness said in a subdued televised speech on Thursday.
"There are many Jamaicans who did not participate, there are many Jamaicans, who for fear of the virus, did not come to the polls, but for other reasons, apathy, frustrations, decided not to participate."
The opposition People's National Party (PNP) leader, Peter Phillips, appeared to have retained his seat, but earlier declared that he would step down and retire from politics if his party lost the election.
In the run-up to the election, Holness credited his administration's tax cuts and other reforms with bringing down unemployment to an all-time low and sharply reducing poverty.
He also highlighted the construction of affordable housing and new roads.
But the pandemic has sent Jamaica, like the rest of the heavily tourism-reliant Caribbean, reeling. T
The Bank of Jamaica last week predicted the economy would contract 7 to 10 per cent this fiscal year.
Analysts said the prime minister likely called the election six months before it was constitutionally mandated to get ahead of a recession due to COVID-19.
Holness called the elections on August 11, when authorities appeared to have successfully contained the coronavirus outbreak in the island nation of some 3 million.
But cases have more than doubled since then, after lockdown restrictions were eased and borders opened.
Australian Associated Press