Jamaica's Political Parties

Jamaica Labour Party (JLP)

Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) The Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) was founded by Alexander Bustamante in July 1943. In the general elections to the House of Representatives under the new Constitution in December 1944 it won a sweeping majority and gained control of 24 seats in the House. As a result of the 1949 general elections the party won 19 of the 32 seats. However, in the 1955 elections, the party lost the majority obtaining only 14 of the 32 seats in the House. In the 1955 general elections the JLP was again defeated, winning only 16 of the 45 available seats.

The Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) successfully campaigned for Jamaica's withdrawal from the Federation of the West Indies, which was decided in a referendum held in September 1961. At the general elections held in 1962 to determined Jamaica's government into Independence, the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) emerged victorious, obtaining 26 of the 45 seats in the House.

In 1967, Alexander Bustamante retired shortly before the JLP once again won the general elections. He was succeeded by Donald Sangster whose sudden death brought the appointment of Hugh Shearer, a prominent trade unionist, as Prime Minister. The Jamaica Labour Party was once again defeated in the 1972 general elections winning only 16 seats in the House of Representatives.

In October 1980, the then Prime Minister, Michael Manley, called an early election which resulted in an overwhelming victory in favour of the JLP led by Edward Seaga. The JLP continued as the governing party until 1989 when again the Peoples National Party (PNP) was elected to govern the country. Today the PNP still hold reign over the government.


The Peoples National Party (PNP)

The Peoples National Party (PNP) was founded in 1938, by Norman Washington Manley. The Party, from its inception, maintained a continuous agitation for constitutional reform. The PNP consistently supported internal self-government for Jamaica and dominion status within the Commonwealth.

After the elections of 1944, the PNP was the official Opposition in the House of Representatives until the election of 1955, when it became the majority party. The party won 18 of the 32 seats in the House, and this number was increased after they won the by-election in February 1956. In the general elections of July 28, 1959, the Party won 29 of the 45 available seats in the House of Representatives. The leader of the Party, Norman Washington Manley, was formally appointed Premier on August 14, 1959.

The Peoples National Party (PNP) was defeated in the 1962 General Elections held to determine Jamaica's first Government on the achievement of Independence. The Party walked away with only 19 of the 45 seats in the House of Representatives. The PNP after seven years as the Government of the Country again formed the official Opposition in the House. In the general elections held in 1972, under the leadership of Norman Manley's son Michael Manley, the PNP promising social and economic reform defeated the JLP winning 37 seats to the JLP's 16 seats. The PNP again returned to power in 1976.

In 1980 the then Prime Minister Michael Manley feeling confident called an early election. The election was held in October but unfortunately resulted in the defeat of the ruling Party - the PNP. The People's National Party was led to a convincing victory in the 1989 general elections by Michael Manley taking 45 of the 60 seats in the House of Representatives.

At present the People's National Party is still in power, and is now led by the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller since 2006 .


The National Democratic Movement (NDM)

A split in the Jamaica Labour Party led to the formation of the National Democratic Movement which was established in November 1995 by Bruce Golding former chairman of the Jamaica Labour Party.

Mission Statement

The Movement is committed, through political organisation and leadership, to the creation and preservation of a just, peaceful, prosperous and efficient society in which every citizen of Jamaica will be able to achieve his or her full potential with due care and regard for the rights of others.



  • Handbook of Jamaica (1964) - Jamaica Information Service (JIS)
  • History of Jamaica - Clinton V. Black F.S.A.
  • Jamaica Journal - Vol 16 no. 3 1983
  • Encyclopedia Britannica




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