History Of Jamaican Elections

1944 - Jamaica's first truly national voting experience took place on December 12, 1944. At this time, the country had been granted full adult suffrage for the election of members to the House of Representatives. Led by Alexander Bustamante, the JLP won 22 seats, the PNP won 5 and the Independents won 5 seats. It's of historic importance to note that Bustamante won his seat in Kingston but the PNP leader, Norman Manley lost his in St. Andrew. 55.15% of the electorate voted. The second arm of the Bi-cameral Legislature was the Legislative Council which had 3 official members and 13 unofficial members appointed by the Governor. The House of Representatives elected 5 of its members to the Executive Council which advised the Governor on National Policy and prepared the Budget. Other Council Members were the Colonial Secretary, the Attorney General, the Financial Secretary, and 2 Unofficial Members appointed by the Governor from among the members of the Legislative Council. The Governor presided over meetings and had a casting vote. The 5 Members elected by the House of Representatives were given administrative responsibility for (1) Finance (2)Communications (3)Agriculture, Land and Commerce (4)Education and (5)Social Welfare.

1949 - This the second General Parliamentary Elections was held on December 20, 1949. The JLP won this election with 42.7% of the vote even though the PNP's 43.5% accounted for a larger number of voters. 63.80% of the electorate voted. The important thing to note here is under this system of "first past the post", the PNP who had a larger majority of the votes, won only 13 seats while the JLP won 17 seats. Independents along with two then emerging parties - The Agricultural Industrial Party and the United Party of Jamaica had candidates contesting, but won no seats. In 1953 the Ministerial System of Government was formally introduced as part of the Executive Arm of Government and the Hon. Alexander Bustamante became the first Chief Minister by the approval of the House of Representative and as such was responsible to nominate 7 other Ministers to be appointed by the Governor who served as part of the Executive Council.

1955 - The third General Parliamentary Elections was contested on January 12, 1955. The PNP won for the first time, with a poll of 50.5% of the vote and a total of 18 seats compared to the JLP's 39.1% of the vote and 14 seats. 63.93% of the electorate voted. Eleven independents ran along with four minor parties. The Hon. Norman Manley became the second person to become Chief Minister. In 1957 the Executive Council was replaced by the Council of Ministers which had 12 members, 10 of whom were chosen from the elected members and 2 from the Legislative Council and was presided over by the Chief Minister.

1958 - Norman Manley took the country into the West Indies Federation with the other British islands in the Caribbean. In the federal election of the 17 seats allotted to Jamaica, the JLP won 12 compared to the PNP’s 5. Neither party leader ran for the Federal Parliament.

1959 - The fourth General Parliamentary Elections was strictly between the two parties. The election which was held on July 28, had 45 established constituencies. Of the 45 seats the PNP took 29 with 64.4% of the votes and the JLP the remaining 16 seats with 35.6% of the votes. 65.35% of the electorate voted. Jamaica having gained Internal Self Government abolished the Council of Ministers and this was replaced by the Cabinet headed by the Premier the Hon. Norman Manley and 11 other Ministers chosen by the Premier and appointed by the Governor. The position of Parliamentary Secretary was also introduced. The Legislative Council was restructured to comprise 2 to 3 persons appointed by the Governor on the advice of the Premier and 18 other persons appointed at the discretion of the Governor to represent differing political views in the House of Representatives. During this time the JLP began agitation for Jamaica to withdraw from the Federation.

1961 - The country's first Referendum was held to determine Jamaica's position on the Federation as the PNP supported membership, and the JLP was in support of a withdrawal. On September 19th, Jamaica voted 54.1% answering "No" to the question "Should Jamaica remain in the West Indies Federation?" 45.9% voted "Yes". 62% of the electorate voted.

1962 - The fifth General Parliamentary Elections took place on April 10. Two major parties contested all constituencies (45 at the time). The People's Political Party polled in 16 constituencies and Independents in 8 constituencies. The JLP won with 26 seats and 50.04% of the votes, and the PNP 19 seats with 48.6% of the votes. 72.29% of the electorate voted and The Rt. Hon. Sir Alexander Bustamante became the first Prime Minister of Independent Jamaica.

1962 - JAMAICA GAINED INDEPENDENCE ON AUGUST 6, 1962.


1967 - The sixth General Parliamentary Elections was contested on February 12th. Constituencies were increased to 53. The JLP won 33 seats with 62.3% of the votes, while the PNP took 18 seats with 37.7% of the votes. 81.46% of the electorate voted. The Rt. Hon. Donald Sangster became the second Prime Minister. In March he became seriously ill and died in April 1967. The Rt. Hon. Hugh Shearer succeeded him as the third Prime Minister. In 1969, the PNP chose Michael Manley, son of Norman Manley, as the new leader of the party.

1972 - The seventh General Parliamentary Elections was held on February 29th. The PNP won 37 seats with 69.8% of the vote and the JLP took 16 seats with 30.2% of the votes. 78.20% of the electorate voted. The Right Honorable Micheal Manley became the fourth Prime Minister.

1976 - The eighth General Parliamentary Elections were held. Constituencies were increased to 60 seats. The PNP took 47 seats with 78.3% of the votes while the JLP won 13 seats with 21.7% of the votes. 84.50% of the electorate voted. The Rt. Hon. Micheal Manley again became Prime Minister. This election was held during a National State of Emergency.

1979 -The Electoral Advisory Committee created by Parliament.

1980 - The ninth General Parliamentary Elections were held on October 30, 1980. The JLP took 51 seats with 85% of the votes while the PNP won 9 seats with 15% of the votes. 86.10% of the electorate voted. The Right Honorable Edward Seaga who was chosen Leader of the JLP in 1974 became the fifth Prime Minister.

1983 - The tenth General Parliamentary Elections were held on December 15, 1983. The PNP boycotted these elections; consequently JLP represented all 60 constituencies. 28.94% of the electorate voted.

1989 - The eleventh General Parliamentary Elections were held on Feruary 9, 1989, these elections were won by the PNP with 45 seats and 75% of the votes, to the JLP's 15 seats and 25% of the votes. 77.59% of the electorate voted. At the end of March 1992, Michael Manley retired from active Political Life, and leadership of the PNP was won by P.J. Patterson.

1993 - The twelfth General Parliamentary Elections were held in February. 669,164 persons voted, representing 66.74% of the electorate. The PNP secured 86.7% of the votes and 52 seats compared to the JLP's 13.3% and 8 seats. The Independents and the Republican Party had some votes, but no seats. The Right Honorable P.J. Patterson became Prime Minister.

1997 - The thirteenth General Parliamentary Elections were held on December 17, 1997. The PNP won 50 seats with 83.3% of the votes while the JLP won 10 seats with 16.7% of the votes. The National Democrat Movement contested elections for the first time and secured 36,707 votes. 65.22% of the electorate voted. The Rt. Hon. P.J. Patterson was returned as Prime Minister.

2002 - The fourteenth General Parliamentary Elections were held on October 16, 2002. The PNP won 34 seats with 51.6% of the votes while the JLP won 26 seats with 46.9% of the votes. The Imperial Ethiopian World Federation Inc (IEWP) party, the United Peoples Party (UPP), the National Democratic Movement (NDM) and a few Independents all contested the elections and achieved 4,057 votes all together. 59.06% of the electorate voted. The Most Hon. P.J. Patterson was returned as Prime Minister for a historic third time and PNP a historic fourth term.

2006 – The senate passed the Electoral Commission (Interim) Act 2006 on October 20th, 2006, clearing the way for the creation of the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (E.C.J.). Its responsibility is to protect the electoral process from the immediate direction, influence and control of the Government, which may influence its functioning to the detriment of persons with opposing views who may wish to participate in the process.

2007 - The fifteenth General Parliamentary Elections were held September 3, 2007. The JLP won 32 seats with 49.98% of the votes while PNP won 28 seats with 49.35% of the votes. The National Democratic Movement, Imperial Ethiopian World, Jerusalem Bread Foundation and independent candidates all contested the elections and achieved 5,532 votes all together. 61.46% of the electorate voted. The Hon. Bruce Golding became Jamaica’s eighth Prime Minister since Independence.

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