Jamaica Labour Party

Jamaica Labour Party
Leader Andrew Holness
Chairman Robert Montague
General Secretary Horace Chang
Founded 8 July 1943 (1943-07-08)
Headquarters 20 Belmont Road, Kingston 5
Youth wing Young Jamaica
Generation 2000
Women's Group Women's Freedom Movement (WFM)
Trade Union Wing Bustamante Industrial Trade Union
Ideology Nationalism[1][2][3]
Fiscal conservatism[4]
Fabianism (originally)[3]
Political position Centre-right[8][9]
Regional affiliation Caribbean Democrat Union
Colors      Green
House of Representatives
49 / 63
13 / 21
Local Government
129 / 227
Parish Councils
9 / 13
www.jamaicalabourparty.com Edit this at Wikidata

The Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) is one of the two major political parties in Jamaica, the other being the People's National Party (PNP). While its name might suggest that it is a social democratic party (as is the case for "Labour" parties in several other Commonwealth realms such as Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom), the JLP is actually a conservative party.[10][11][12] However, it has longstanding ties to the Jamaican labour movement.

It is the current governing party, having won 49 of the 63 parliamentary seats in the lower house of parliament (House of Representatives) in the 2020 general elections.

The JLP uses the Liberty Bell, the victory sign, and the colour green as electoral symbols. The JLP is a member of the Caribbean Democrat Union.


The party was founded on 8 July 1943 by Alexander Bustamante as the political wing of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union. Bustamante had previously been a member of the PNP.

It won the 1944 general elections with 22 of the 32 seats.[13] It went on to win the 1949 elections with a reduced majority. The PNP received more votes (203,048) than the JLP (199,538), but the JLP secured more seats; 17 to the PNP's 13. Two seats were won by independents. The voter turnout was 65.2%.

The JLP lost power to the PNP in the 1955 elections. The PNP won for the first time, securing 18 out of 32 seats. The JLP ended up with 14 seats, and there were no independents. The voter turnout with 65.1%. As a result, Norman Manley became the new chief minister.[14]

The JLP remained in opposition following the 1959 elections, when the number of seats was increased to 45. The PNP secured a wider margin of victory, taking 29 seats to the JLP's 16.

Manley was appointed Jamaica's first premier on 14 August 1959.[15]

The JLP was victorious in 1962 and was therefore the Government when Jamaica gained its political independence from Great Britain on 6 August 1962.

Bustamante suffered a stroke in 1964 and largely withdrew from politics. However, he did not relinquish the title of party leader for another decade. Donald Sangster took over as acting prime minister after Bustamante's stroke. He was named First Deputy Leader in 1967, and led the party to victory as of the 21 February 1967 elections. Sangster suffered a brain hemorrhage and died about six weeks after the elections, while he was preparing for his budget presentation.

Hugh Shearer succeeded Sangster as First Deputy Leader and Prime Minister, defeating David Clement (DC) Tavares by two votes in a run-off by of the JLP parliamentarians. Tavares had come out on top in the first ballot, with Shearer and Robert Lightbourne being the other candidates. Under Shearer, the JLP lost power for the first time to the People's National Party and Michael Manley in 1972. Shearer served as Opposition Leader until 1974.

Bustamante finally gave up the post of party leader in 1974, and Edward Seaga was elected his successor. The party lost the 1976 elections, but Seaga became Prime Minister after victory in 1980 when the party won by a landslide, capturing 51 of the then 60 parliamentary seats. In 1983 with the JLP achieving a spike in popularity, in part because of Seaga's support of the US-led military invasion of Grenada, Seaga called early elections and won all sixty seats, the majority by acclamation, mainly because the opposition PNP boycotted those elections. The JLP suffered defeat in the 1989 elections and went on to lose elections in 1993, 1997 and 2002, all under the continued leadership of Seaga.

In 2005 Bruce Golding succeeded Seaga as leader of the party, and led it to victory in the 2007 elections. Golding resigned as head of the party and Prime Minister in October 2011 and was succeeded by Andrew Holness. Soon after becoming leader, Holness called an election over a year before it was constitutionally due, and the party lost by a 2:1 margin to the PNP. Holness was not blamed for the defeat, and continued to lead the party as Opposition Leader

The party held a leadership election on 10 November 2013 where Holness was challenged by his deputy, Shadow Minister for Finance Audley Shaw. Holness defeated Shaw by a margin of 2,704 votes to Shaw's 2,012.[16]

Holness went on to lead the JLP to a one-seat parliamentary majority (32–31) in the 2016 general election, reducing the PNP to the opposition benches after one term. In the 2020 general election, Andrew Holness made history for the JLP by accomplishing a second consecutive win for the Jamaica Labour Party. The last time a consecutive win occurred for the JLP was in 1980.[17] This is what Jamaicans classified as a "landslide victory".[18][19][20][21]

Political positions

The JLP is a conservative party. It believes in a market-driven economy and individual personal responsibility.

In May 2008, in an interview with Stephen Sackur of the BBC, Bruce Golding PM and Party Leader declared that any cabinet formed by him would exclude any MP known to be gay.[22] In previous statements, Golding stated that he and his party strongly opposed public displays of homosexuality in Jamaica and that he felt that they should continue to be illegal in keeping with Jamaican societal norms.[23] He justified the illegality of homosexual acts by referring to Christian values and the integrity of the family.[24][25]

Electoral performance

House of Representatives

Election Leader Votes Share of votes Seats Result
1944 Alexander Bustamante 144,661 41.4%
22 / 32
1949 199,538 42.7%
17 / 32
1955 189,929 39.0%
14 / 32
1959 247,149 44.3%
16 / 45
1962 288,130 50.0%
26 / 45
1967 Donald Sangster 224,180 50.7%
33 / 53
1972 Hugh Shearer 205,587 43.4%
16 / 53
1976 Edward Seaga 318,180 43.2%
13 / 60
1980 502,115 58.3%
51 / 60
1983 23,363 88.0%
60 / 60
  • PNP boycotted the elections. JLP won the 6 seats contested along with independent candidates and gained the other 54 for which only the JLP had nominees.
1989 362,589 42.9%
15 / 60
1993 263,711 39.1%
8 / 60
1997 297,387 38.6%
10 / 60
2002 360,468 46.9%
26 / 60
2007 Bruce Golding 410,438 50.0%
32 / 60
2011 Andrew Holness 405,920 46.3%
21 / 63
2016 436,972 49.5%
32 / 63
2020 406,085 57.1%
48 / 63

West Indies

Election Party Group Leader Votes Seats Position Government
No. Share No. Share
1958[26] DLP William Alexander Clarke Bustamante 451,233 52.2%
12 / 17
70.6% 1st WIFLP

List of party leaders

1. ^ Donald Sangster and Hugh Shearer were not actually leaders of the JLP but were de facto leaders during Bustamante's illness/withdrawal from active political life.


  1. ^ King, Cheryl L. A. (2003). Wipf and Stock Publishers (ed.). Michael Manley and Democratic Socialism: Political Leadership and Ideology in Jamaica. p. 1. ISBN 9781592442348. Archived from the original on 2018-07-14. Retrieved 2018-07-14.
  2. ^ Monteith, Kathleen E. A.; Richards, Glen (2001). University of the West Indies Press (ed.). Jamaica in Slavery and Freedom: History, Heritage and Culture. pp. 365–366. ISBN 9789766401085. Archived from the original on 2018-07-15. Retrieved 2018-07-14.
  3. ^ a b Austin, Diane J. (1987). Taylor & Francis (ed.). Urban Life in Kingston, Jamaica: The Culture and Class Ideology of Two Neighborhoods. p. 13. ISBN 9782881240065. Archived from the original on 2018-07-14. Retrieved 2018-07-14.
  4. ^ Davidson, Vernon (29 March 2015). "Holness outlines the JLP's philosophy". Jamaica Observer. Archived from the original on 4 September 2020. Retrieved 14 July 2018.
  5. ^ "Jamaica country profile". BBC. 10 January 2018. Archived from the original on 4 September 2020. Retrieved 14 July 2018.
  6. ^ Thomason, Ian (2009). Faber & Faber (ed.). The Dead Yard: Tales of Modern Jamaica. p. 68. ISBN 9780571252343. Archived from the original on 2018-07-14. Retrieved 2018-07-14.
  7. ^ Wallace, Elisabeth (1977). University of Toronto Press (ed.). The British Caribbean from the Decline of Colonialism to the End of Federation. University of Toronto Press. p. 41.
  8. ^ Axel Klein; Marcus Day; Anthony Harriott (13 November 2004). Caribbean Drugs: From Criminalization to Harm Reduction. Zed Books. pp. 70–. ISBN 978-1-84277-499-1. Archived from the original on 5 July 2014. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  9. ^ Robin Gauldie (July 2007). Jamaica. New Holland Publishers. pp. 17–. ISBN 978-1-84537-859-2. Archived from the original on 2014-07-05. Retrieved 2016-10-18.
  10. ^ Charles Green (9 May 2002). Manufacturing Powerlessness in the Black Diaspora: Inner-City Youth and the New Global Frontier. AltaMira Press. pp. 133–. ISBN 978-0-585-38626-3. Archived from the original on 1 October 2017. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  11. ^ Sherry Paprocki; Sean Dolan (1 January 2009). Bob Marley: Musician. Infobase Publishing. pp. 76–. ISBN 978-1-4381-0072-2. Archived from the original on 5 July 2014. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  12. ^ Nancy Foner (20 August 2013). One Out of Three: Immigrant New York in the 21st Century. Columbia University Press. pp. 235–. ISBN 978-0-231-53513-7. Archived from the original on 5 July 2014. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  13. ^ Nohlen, D (2005) Elections in the Americas: A data handbook, Volume I, pp432-435 ISBN 978-0-19-928357-6
  14. ^ C.V. Black, A History of Jamaica (London: Collins, 1975), p. 233.
  15. ^ Michael Burke, "Norman Manley as premier", Jamaica Observer, 13 August 2014 http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Norman-Manley-as-premier_17349996 Retrieved 10 September 2020.
  16. ^ "Real 'Man A Yaad' - Holness clobbers Shaw to remain JLP leader". Archived from the original on 2013-11-14. Retrieved 2014-07-04.
  17. ^ JLP Trounces PNP 49 To 14 Seats Archived 5 September 2020 at the Wayback Machine The Gleaner, 3 September 2020
  18. ^ "Jamaica's Ruling Party Claims Landslide Victory in Thursday's General Election". Voice of America. September 4, 2020. Archived from the original on September 10, 2020. Retrieved September 5, 2020.
  19. ^ Charles, Jacqueline (September 3, 2020). "Prime Minister Andrew Holness and Jamaica Labor Party retain power in 'tsunami victory'". Miami Herald. Archived from the original on September 5, 2020. Retrieved September 5, 2020.
  20. ^ "Jamaica election: Andrew Holness' JLP re-elected amid rise in Covid-19 cases". BBC News. September 4, 2020. Archived from the original on September 6, 2020. Retrieved September 5, 2020.
  21. ^ Chappell, Kate (September 3, 2020). "Jamaica's ruling party claims re-election victory in landslide win". Reuters. Archived from the original on September 6, 2020. Retrieved September 5, 2020.
  22. ^ Premierminister: Homosexualität ist nicht jamaikanisch Archived 2017-10-29 at the Wayback Machine, queer.de, 23. Mai 2008 (german)
  23. ^ "Golding says 'no' to homosexuality" Archived 14 June 2009 at the Wayback Machine, Jamaica Observer, 8 July 2007
  24. ^ Violent prejudice against Jamaica's gay people must stop Archived 2017-09-04 at the Wayback Machine retrieved 19 May 2012
  25. ^ Is Jamaica homophobic Archived 2018-02-09 at the Wayback Machine retrieved 19 May
  26. ^ "Jamaica Observer Limited". Jamaica Observer. Archived from the original on 27 June 2020. Retrieved 25 June 2020.

External links