Jamaica Labour Party
LeaderAndrew Holness
ChairmanRobert Montague
General SecretaryHorace Chang
FounderAlexander Bustamante
Founded8 July 1943 (1943-07-08)
Split fromPeople's National Party
Headquarters20 Belmont Road, Kingston 5
Youth wingYoung Jamaica
Generation 2000
Women's GroupWomen's Freedom Movement (WFM)
Trade Union WingBustamante Industrial Trade Union
Fiscal conservatism[7]
Paternalistic conservatism[9]
Political positionCentre-right[10][11]
Regional affiliationCaribbean Democrat Union
West Indies Democratic Labour Party (1957–1961)
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.[14][15][16]

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

The JLP in colonial Jamaica

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.[17] 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.[18]

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.[19]

In the 1961 Federation membership referendum Jamaica voted 54% to leave the West Indies Federation. After losing the referendum, Manley took Jamaica to the polls in April 1962, to secure a mandate for the island's independence. On 10 April 1962, of the 45 seats up for contention in the 1962 Jamaican general election, the JLP won 26 seats and the PNP 19. The voter turnout was 72.9%.[20]

This resulted in the independence of Jamaica on 6 August 1962, and several other British colonies in the West Indies followed suit in the next decade. Bustamante had replaced Manley as premier between April and August, and on independence, he became Jamaica's first prime minister.

The JLP in independent Jamaica

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 in the 21 February 1967 Jamaican general election. The JLP won 33 out of 53 seats, with the PNP taking 20 seats.[21]

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 in independent Jamaica for the first time to the People's National Party and Michael Manley in 1972. The PNP won 37 seats to the JLP's 16.[21]

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, the PNP winning 47 seats to the JLP's 13. The turnout was a very high 85 percent.[21]

Seaga became Prime Minister after victory in 1980 when the party won by a landslide, capturing 51 of the then 60 parliamentary seats.[21]

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. The PNP won 45 seats to the JLP's 15.[21]

The JLP went on to lose elections in 1993, 1997 and 2002, all under the continued leadership of Seaga. In 1993, the PNP, led by P.J. Patterson, won 52 seats to the JLP's eight seats, while in 1997 the PNP won 50 of the 60 seats available.[21] In the 2002 Jamaican general election, the PNP retained power with a reduced seat majority of 34 seats to 26.[22] Patterson stepped down on 26 February 2006, and was replaced by Portia Simpson-Miller, Jamaica's first female Prime Minister.

In 2005 Bruce Golding succeeded Seaga as leader of the party, and led it to victory in the 2007 elections by a narrow margin of 32 seats to 28, with a turnout of 61.46%.[23] This election ended 18 years of PNP rule, and Bruce Golding became the new prime minister.[24]

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. Portia Simpson-Miller and the PNP returned to power. The number of seats had been increased to 63, and the PNP swept to power with a landslide 42 seats to the JLP's 21. The voter turnout was 53.17%.[25]

Holness 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.[26]

Holness went on to lead the JLP to a narrow, one-seat parliamentary majority (32–31) in the 2016 general election, reducing the PNP to the opposition benches after one term. The voter turnout dipped below 50% for the first time, registering just 48.37%.[27]

In the 2020 general election, Andrew Holness made history for the JLP by accomplishing a second consecutive win for the Jamaica Labour Party, winning 49 seats to 14 won by the PNP, led this time by Peter Phillips. The last time a consecutive win occurred for the JLP was in 1980. However, the turnout at this election was just 37%, probably affected by the coronavirus pandemic.[28] This is what Jamaicans classified as a "landslide victory".[29][30][31][32]

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.[33] 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.[34] He underlined the illegality of homosexual acts by citing Christian values and the integrity of the family.[35][36]

Since the 1990s, the JLP has stated its intention for Jamaica to be a republic, thus dropping the British monarchy as its head of state. Following Barbados' transition to a republic in 2021, Prime Minister and JLP leader Andrew Holness suggested that a referendum on republicanism could be held in Jamaica in 2025.[37] "Jamaica is, as you would see, a country that is very proud of our history and very proud of what we have achieved," Holness said in June 2022. "And we intend to attain, in short order, our development goals and fulfill our true ambitions and destiny as an independent, developed, prosperous country."[38]

Electoral performance

House of Representatives

Graphs are temporarily unavailable due to technical issues.
Election Leader Votes Share of votes Seats Result
1944 Alexander Bustamante 144,661 41.4%
22 / 32
Supermajority Government
1949 199,538 42.7%
17 / 32
Majority government
1955 189,929 39.0%
14 / 32
1959 247,149 44.3%
16 / 45
1962 288,130 50.0%
26 / 45
Majority government
1967 Donald Sangster 224,180 50.7%
33 / 53
Majority government
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
Supermajority government
1983 23,363 88.0%
60 / 60
Majority government
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
Majority government
2011 Andrew Holness 405,920 46.3%
21 / 63
2016 436,972 49.5%
32 / 63
Majority government
2020 406,085 57.1%
49 / 63
Supermajority government

West Indies

See also: West Indies Democratic Labour Party, 1958 West Indies federal elections, West Indies Federation, and Federal Parliament of the West Indies Federation

Graphs are temporarily unavailable due to technical issues.
Election Party Group Leader Votes Seats Position Government
No. Share No. Share
1958[39] 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. ^ "Jamaica country profile". BBC. 10 January 2018. Archived from the original on 4 September 2020. Retrieved 14 July 2018.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ 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. ISBN 9780802053510.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ Scott, Romario (August 8, 2020). "PNP vows to hold referendum on whether to remove Queen, if elected". The Gleaner.
  9. ^ Leonard E. Barrett, ed. (1988). The Rastafarians: Sounds of Cultural Dissonance. Beacon Press. p. 220. ISBN 9780807010266.
  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ 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.
  12. ^ John A. Bushnell, ed. (2018). Active Diplomacy to Achieve Us Objectives 1960-1991, in Central America, Washington, Panama, and Argentina. Xlibris Corporation. ISBN 9781984539625. Jamaica had a leftist socialist government under the PNP [People's National Party] and Prime Minister Michael Manley until the more conservative or centrist JLP [Jamaica Labour Party] won a majority in the Congress toward the end of ...
  13. ^ Gale Research Company, ed. (1977). Countries of the World and Their Leaders. ISBN 9780810310384. The Jamaica Labour Party ( JLP ) is a centrist party and is loosely organized at present .
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ 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.
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ Nohlen, D (2005) Elections in the Americas: A data handbook, Volume I, pp432-435 ISBN 978-0-19-928357-6
  18. ^ C.V. Black, A History of Jamaica (London: Collins, 1975), p. 233.
  19. ^ 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.
  20. ^ Dieter Nohlen (2005) Elections in the Americas: A data handbook, Volume I, p. 430.
  21. ^ a b c d e f Dieter Nohlen (2005) Elections in the Americas: A data handbook, Volume I, p. 430.
  22. ^ Nohlen, D (2005) Elections in the Americas: A data handbook, Volume I, p430 ISBN 978-0-19-928357-6
  23. ^ Caribbean Elections: Jamaican Election Centre, "Jamaican general election results 3 September 2007" http://www.caribbeanelections.com/jm/elections/jm_results_2007.asp Retrieved 24 December 2020.
  24. ^ Pollster's diary: virtual motion picture of campaign 2007 Archived 2008-06-22 at the Wayback Machine, Jamaica Gleaner, 9 September 2007
  25. ^ Caribbean Elections: Jamaican Election Centre, "Jamaican general election results 29 December 2011" http://www.caribbeanelections.com/jm/elections/jm_results_2011.asp Retrieved 24 December 2020.
  26. ^ "Real 'Man A Yaad' - Holness clobbers Shaw to remain JLP leader". 11 November 2013. Archived from the original on 2013-11-14. Retrieved 2014-07-04.
  27. ^ Caribbean Elections: Jamaican Election Centre, "Jamaican general election results 25 February 2016" http://www.caribbeanelections.com/jm/elections/jm_results_2016.asp Retrieved 24 December 2020.
  28. ^ JLP Trounces PNP 49 To 14 Seats Archived 5 September 2020 at the Wayback Machine The Gleaner, 3 September 2020
  29. ^ "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.
  30. ^ 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.
  31. ^ "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.
  32. ^ 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.
  33. ^ "Premierminister: Homosexualität ist nicht jamaikanisch". queer.de (in German). 23 May 2008. Archived from the original on 29 October 2017.
  34. ^ Williams, Petre (8 July 2007). "Golding says 'no' to homosexuality". Jamaica Observer. Archived from the original on 14 June 2009.
  35. ^ Tomlinson, Maurice (27 January 2012). "Violent prejudice against Jamaica's gay people must stop". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 4 September 2017. Retrieved 19 May 2012.
  36. ^ "Bruce Golding on "Is Jamaica Homophobic?"". Blogspot. 13 October 2010. Archived from the original on 9 February 2018. Retrieved 21 January 2023.
  37. ^ Fowler, Richard (19 January 2023). "Jamaica's Prime Minister Pushes Forward To Make Nation A Republic". Forbes.
  38. ^ Wilkinson, Bert (January 19, 2023). "Jamaica limping towards a republic; process stalled". New York Amsterdam News.
  39. ^ "Jamaica Observer Limited". Jamaica Observer. Archived from the original on 27 June 2020. Retrieved 25 June 2020.