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Jamaica Labour Party

Jamaica Labour Party
Leader Andrew Holness
Founder Alexander Bustamante
Chairman Robert Montague
General Secretary Horace Chang
Founded 8 July 1943
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
21 / 63
8 / 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). Despite its name, the JLP is a conservative[3][4][5] political party, albeit one with ties to the Jamaican labour movement. The JLP is a member of the Caribbean Democrat Union.

It currently sits in Opposition in the Parliament, having won 21 of the 63 parliamentary seats in the lower house of parliament(House of Representative) in the 2011 elections. The party did not win any of the local government councils(Municipality) in the 2012 local elections.

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


  • Political Background 1
  • List of party leaders 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4

Political Background

The party was founded on 8 July 1943 by Alexander Bustamante as the political wing of the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union. 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.

In 1964 Bustamante retired from politics, but he did not relinquish the title of party leader for several years until the party gave him the honorific title of "The Chief" following its defeat in the 1972 elections. In the interim the party's effective head was First Deputy Leader Donald Sangster who led the party to victory at the polls on 21 February 1967. Unfortunately, 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. Shearer led the JLP to election defeat against the People's National Party's Michael Manley in 1972 and served as Opposition Leader until 1974. It is to be noted that both Sangster and Shearer served as prime ministers while Bustamante remained party leader: they both had the title of "First Deputy Leader" of the JLP while they served as Prime Minister.

In 1974 Edward Seaga was elected the second leader of the party. 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 head of government in October 2011 and was succeeded by current leader Andrew Holness, who served as prime minister until January 2012, when he assumed the position as Opposition Leader. Holness called the 2011 elections, over a year before it was constitutionally due, and the party lost by a 2:1 margin to the PNP.

The party held a leadership election on November 10, 2013 where incumbent party leader (and Leader of the Opposition), Andrew Holness, was challenged by party deputy leader and Shadow Minister for Finance, Audley Shaw. Holness defeated Shaw.[7]

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–.  
  2. ^ Robin Gauldie (July 2007). Jamaica. New Holland Publishers. pp. 17–.  
  3. ^ Charles Green (9 May 2002). Manufacturing Powerlessness in the Black Diaspora: Inner-City Youth and the New Global Frontier. AltaMira Press. pp. 133–.  
  4. ^ Sherry Paprocki; Sean Dolan (1 January 2009). Bob Marley: Musician. Infobase Publishing. pp. 76–.  
  5. ^ Nancy Foner (20 August 2013). One Out of Three: Immigrant New York in the 21st Century. Columbia University Press. pp. 235–.  
  6. ^ Nohlen, D (2005) Elections in the Americas: A data handbook, Volume I, pp432-435 ISBN 978-0-19-928357-6
  7. ^

External links

  • Official JLP website
  • History of the JLP and the PNP
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