Friday, 14 August 2020 18:13

JLP, PNP take social media route in light of Covid-19

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Dr. Horace Chang, General Secretary of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), has said the party's campaign plans for the September 3 general election have been significantly modified to include coronavirus prevention measures.
This follows concerns that campaign activities could result in a spread of the highly contagious illness.
Dr. Chang noted that, while Jamaica traditionally has a "carnival-like" atmosphere during election campaigns, the party had to "change our campaign to meet the times" by keeping the public safe but engaged in the democratic process.  
On Wednesday, People's National Party General Secretary Julian Robinson said it will be difficult to curtail some election activities to ensure COVID-19 safety, given the local political culture.
He acknowledged that large mass meetings and political rallies are not practical given the health threat.
However, he said some of the traditional activities, such as motorcades and small meetings will be difficult to prevent.
"I don't think we could ever agree to cut out face-to-face interactions fully. I mean, going to somebody's house, having an interaction with them, having small meetings in the communities - you can exercise judgement and ensure that you protect people that way," he said, pointing out the need to "be realistic about balancing the cultural issues with the need for safety."
Mr. Robinson said COVID-19 protocols put in for general conduct must be enforceable and balanced in such a way as to not stifle the country's political culture, even as he reiterated the PNP's commitment "to campaigning in a way that is safe and doesn't endanger lives."
In the meantime, both political parties are confident of victory in the upcoming election. 
Dr. Chang on Thursday declared that the Jamaica Labour Party will gain additional seats following the general election. 
"We will take a significant number from them... We took eleven the last time with a...not only limited budget but in an atmosphere that wasn't particularly positive. We can do the same again because the attitude is much more positive, the good will is out there and I think...historically, the country looks toward the labour party when we have a crisis. We are going through a crisis now and I think that reinforces our position," he reasoned. 
With much of the campaigning expected to take place on social media, PNP General Secretary Julian Robinson said his party will not be at a disadvantage.
He noted that social media campaigns will not require as much money as some traditional campaigning methods.
But the PNP has been criticised for not using the platform as effectively as the Jamaica Labour Party. 
While Mr. Robinson accepted the criticism, he revealed that the party has been seeking to "identify the best talent; persons who don't necessarily come from a background of being political but who are au fait with social media marketing communications." He added that the party has "engaged some of those professionals, and I think you're going to be seeing a difference in this particular campaign with what comes out."
Mr. Robinson said the PNP will have to ensure it is well mobilised to get electors to polling stations given the impact COVID-19 is expected to have on voter turnout. 
He said the PNP is also confident it has the support of most of the electors added to the new voters' list. 
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