Jamaica Labour Party

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Jamaica Labour Party
Leader Andrew Holness
Founder Alexander Bustamante
Chairman Robert Montague
General Secretary Horace Chang
Founded 8 July 1943
Split from People's National Party
Headquarters Kingston, Jamaica
Youth wing Young Jamaica
Young Professional Arm G2K (Generation 2000)
Women's Group Women's Freedom Movement (WFM)
Trade Union Wing Bustamante Industrial Trade Union
Ideology Conservatism
Political position Centre-right[1][2]
International affiliation International Democrat Union
Regional affiliation Caribbean Democrat Union
House of Representatives
32 / 63
13 / 21
Local Government
75 / 227
Parish Councils
0 / 13
Politics of Jamaica
Political parties

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 suggests that it is a social democratic party, the JLP is actually a conservative party.[3][4][5] However, it has longstanding ties to the Jamaican labour movement. The JLP is a member of the Caribbean Democrat Union.

It is the current governing party, having won 32 of the 63 parliamentary seats in the lower house of parliament (House of Representatives) in the 2016 general elections. The party did not win any of the local government councils (municipalities) in the 2012 local elections.

The JLP uses the Liberty Bell, the victory sign, and the colour green as electoral symbols.


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.[6] It went on to win the 1949 elections with a reduced majority, before losing power to the PNP in the 1955 elections. It remained in opposition following the 1959 elections, but 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 at 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 came 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 current leader 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.[7]

Holness went on to lead the JLP to a one-seat parliamentary majority (32-31) in the February 25, 2016 general elections, reducing the PNP to the opposition benches after one term.

Political positions

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

Electoral performance

Election Leader Votes Share of votes Seats Result
1944 William Alexander Clarke Bustamante 144,661 41.4%
22 / 32
1949 William Alexander Clarke Bustamante 199,538 42.7%
17 / 32
1955 William Alexander Clarke Bustamante 189,929 39.0%
14 / 32
1959 William Alexander Clarke Bustamante 247,149 44.3%
16 / 45
1962 Sir William Alexander Clarke Bustamante 288,130 50.0%
26 / 45
1967 Sir Donald Burns Sangster 224,180 50.7%
33 / 53
1972 Hugh Lawson Shearer 205,587 43.4%
16 / 53
1976 Edward Phillip George Seaga 318,180 43.2%
13 / 60
1980 Edward Phillip George Seaga 502,115 58.3%
51 / 60
1983 Edward Phillip George Seaga 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 Edward Phillip George Seaga 362,589 42.9%
15 / 60
1993 Edward Phillip George Seaga 263,711 39.1%
8 / 60
1997 Edward Phillip George Seaga 297,387 38.6%
10 / 60
2002 Edward Phillip George Seaga 360,468 46.9%
26 / 60
2007 Orette Bruce Golding 410,438 50.0%
32 / 60
2011 Andrew Michael Holness 405,920 46.3%
21 / 63
2016 Andrew Michael Holness 437,178 49.5%
32 / 63

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. 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Robin Gauldie (July 2007). Jamaica. New Holland Publishers. pp. 17–. ISBN 978-1-84537-859-2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. Sherry Paprocki; Sean Dolan (1 January 2009). Bob Marley: Musician. Infobase Publishing. pp. 76–. ISBN 978-1-4381-0072-2.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Nohlen, D (2005) Elections in the Americas: A data handbook, Volume I, pp432-435 ISBN 978-0-19-928357-6
  7. "Real 'Man A Yaad' - Holness clobbers Shaw to remain JLP leader".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links