The Jamaican government is the voice of the Jamaican people. Their purpose is to regulate, make decisions and provide security. Learn more about the government of Jamaica.
On the 6th of August 1692, the Jamaican (constitution) Order in Council came into effect establishing Jamaica as an independent nation.
The structure of Jamaica's government is similar to that of other members of the British Commonwealth with a parliamentary democracy.
Government is carried on in the name of the British monarch, though the monarch parliamentary functions as the head of state.
The monarch’s personal representative is the governor-general, whom she, Queen Elizabeth from England, appoints on the advice of the prime minister.
Parliament consists of a majority party that is the effective government, and a minority party called the opposition. The maximum life of a government is five years, with the majority party having the right to call elections at any time during its term.
Universal adult suffrage was introduced at the 1944 election; in 1979 the voting was lowered from twenty-one to eighteen years old.
Jamaica’s parliament consists of an elected house of representatives (currently with sixty members) and a nominated senate of twenty-one representatives from both the government and the opposition.
The role of the senate is to review legislation passed by the House, with some limitation of its powers regarding money bills.
Government Policies and Programs
The initiation of government policies and programmes and responsibility for general direction and control of government rests with the cabinet, which consists of the prime minister and not less than eleven other members.
The business of the Jamaican government is conducted by ministers who are appointed by the prime minister from members of the House of Representatives and the Senate.
Local Government of Jamaica
Local Jamaican government refers to the provision of services and amenities at the local parish level, and is the oldest form of government, dating to the late 17th century.
All sixty-three constituencies with two hundred and twenty seven electoral divisions are represented by a local government parish councillor.
Though from time to time there have been third parties, they have been unable to erode the solid base of the two leading parties, which is founded on trade union support.
Two major parties are the People’s National Party (PNP) formed in 1938, and the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) established in 1943.
People’s National Party (PNP)
The People’s National Party is the oldest party in the Jamaica. Supporters of this party are known for wearing orange and thumping their fist into the air.
The party was first led by Norman Manley in 1938, followed by his son Michael Manley in 1969. From 1992 to 2006, Percival Patterson was party president and also prime minister of Jamaica.
When he resigned in 2006, Mrs. Portia Simpson-Miller took over as party president and prime minister. Today, she still stands as prime minister of Jamaica.
Jamaica Labour Party (JLP)
Founded four years after the PNP, the Jamaica Labour Party has become as popular as the People’s National Party.
The Labourites latest victory in the general election came in 2007 under the leadership of Bruce Golding. This party has grown in supporters over the last ten years, especially among persons under the age of thirty.
JLP supporters or “labourites” are easily identified by the colour green or making the “peace” sign.
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