Short for JA by Abbreviationfinder, Jamaica is a parliamentary democracy. The British monarch is formally the head of state but the political power is exercised by the prime minister and the government. Jamaica is a member of the Commonwealth, which includes Britain and former British colonies.
The constitution is from independence in 1962. According to it, the British monarch on the island is represented by a general governor, who is appointed on a proposal by the prime minister and opposition leader. The governor-general basically acts only on the advice of the government. There is political agreement that the monarchy should be abolished and the republic introduced.
- Countryaah: Total population and chart of Jamaica for years of 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023 and 2024. Also covers population density, birth rate, death rate and population growth rates.
Parliament consists of two chambers, the House of Representatives (also called the lower house) and the Senate (the upper house).
The House of Representatives has up to 63 members. They are elected in general elections, through majority elections in one-man constituencies. Elections are held for a maximum of five years; the prime minister can choose to announce elections earlier. The House of Representatives has the main responsibility for the legislative work and controls the budget.
The 21 senators are appointed by the Governor-General – 13 on the advice of the Prime Minister and 8 on the proposal of the opposition leader. Their term of office is five years. The Senate is reviewing laws and may delay their adoption.
Formally, it is the governor-general who appoints the prime minister, but in practice it is the leader of parliament’s largest party that gets the prime minister’s post. The government is responsible for the House of Representatives and can fall if a vote of no confidence is held. Then new elections are announced.
The country is divided into 14 districts (parish) with locally elected parishes. Elections for these should be held every three years, but delays are common.
The judicial system is designed according to a British model with the Privy Council in London as the last instance for appeal. Jamaica co-founded the United Kingdom Independent Caribbean Supreme Court (CCJ). The Court which began its work in 2005 is intended to become the highest court in most of the Commonwealth Member States in the Caribbean. The PNP has tried to enforce that the Privy Council is replaced by the CCJ in Jamaica but was hindered when the support in the Senate has not been sufficient. The JLP has previously opposed the change but the JLP government that took office in 2016 has promised a referendum on the issue.
Jamaican politics has been dominated by two major parties since the 1940s: the Jamaica Labor Party (Jamaica Labor Party, JLP), which despite its name is a right-wing party, and the Socialist People’s Nationalist Party (People’s National Party, PNP).
JLP was formed in 1943 as a political branch of the trade union movement Bustamante Industrial Trade Union. The ties between the two are still strong today. The party stands for a business-friendly policy and advocates close relations with the United States. JLP has been led by Andrew Holness since 2011.
PNP was founded in 1938 and works closely with the trade union movement National Workers Union. The party previously had a distinct socialist program but over time has moved towards the center. The PNP seems to be converting Jamaica into a republic, and has a greater focus on social efforts than the JLP, but otherwise the ideological differences between the parties are now small. PNP has been headed by Peter Phillips since spring 2017.
Typical of Jamaican politics is that trade unions have great influence and that the parties also have contacts with street gangs that are used during election campaigns (see below) (see Modern history).
The few small parties that exist have no political influence.