Republicanism in Jamaica is a position which advocates that Jamaica's system of government be changed from a constitutional monarchy to a republic. Both major political parties – the Jamaica Labour Party and the People's National Party – subscribe to the position, and the current Prime Minister of Jamaica, Andrew Holness, has announced that transitioning to a republic will be a priority of his government. In June 2022, the Jamaican government announced its intention that Jamaica become a republic by the time of the next general election in 2025. The process will include a two-thirds majority vote in parliament along with a referendum.[1]


In the lead-up to Jamaican independence in 1962, the Parliament of Jamaica established a cross-party joint select committee to prepare a new constitution. The committee received several submissions calling for Jamaica to become a republic, which it "heard politely, but rejected unceremoniously".[2] The People's Freedom Movement, an extra-parliamentary opposition party, suggested that the constitution include a provision for a referendum on a republic at a later date, but this was not carried out.[3] Both major party leaders in Jamaica in the lead-up to independence (the JLP's Alexander Bustamante and the PNP's Norman Manley) were opposed to Jamaica becoming a republic. Law professor Stephen Vasciannie has suggested that the decision to retain the monarchy at independence was due to several factors, including a desire for continuity and stability, a desire to demonstrate the maturity required for independence, the popularity of the Royal Family amongst Jamaicans, and tendencies towards Anglophilia among the political elites.[4]


The first Jamaican prime minister to make steps towards a republic was Michael Manley, whose People's National Party (PNP) came to power at the 1972 general election. His government established a commission into constitutional reform in 1975, and in July 1977, following a march to commemorate the Morant Bay rebellion, Manley announced that Jamaica would become a republic by 1981. However, his government was defeated at the 1980 general election by the more conservative Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), led by Edward Seaga. Seaga was also a republican, having expressed a preference for a "ceremonial presidency" in 1977. Despite this, no concrete moves towards a republic occurred during his premiership.[5]

In 2002, the Parliament of Jamaica, with the PNP, led by P. J. Patterson, holding the plurality of seats, abolished the requirement for public servants to take an oath of allegiance to the Jamaican monarch. At a PNP conference in September 2003, Patterson expressed his hopes that Jamaica would become a republic by 2007, stating that "the time has come when we must have a head of state chosen by us".[6] However, his government's attempts to transition to a republic were stifled by its simultaneous attempts to abolish the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council as the final court of appeal in Jamaica and replace it with Caribbean Court of Justice. The opposition JLP were against that decision (which would also have required a constitutional amendment) and made their support for republicanism conditional on a referendum being held for the judicial changes, which was not forthcoming.[5]

The PNP was defeated in the 2007 general election. The new prime minister, JLP leader Bruce Golding, promised that his government would "amend the constitution to replace the Queen with a Jamaican president who symbolises the unity of the nation", but the JLP's term in Cabinet came to an end at the 2011 general election without any formal steps towards a republic having been taken.[7] Portia Simpson-Miller, the PNP leader and new prime minister, also publicly affirmed her commitment to republicanism, stating a preference for an elected president.[8] However, the PNP lost power at the 2016 general election without bringing about constitutional change. Andrew Holness, Simpson-Miller's successor as prime minister, also affirmed a commitment to republicanism upon taking office and stated his Cabinet would introduce a bill to replace the Queen with "a non-executive president as head of state".[9]

During the 2020 Jamaican general election, the PNP promised to hold a referendum on becoming a republic within 18 months if it won the election.[10] However, the ruling JLP, which had in 2016 promised a referendum but not carried one out, was re-elected and stated that holding a referendum remains a goal.[11]

In April 2022, former Prime Minister PJ Patterson resigned from the Privy Council of the United Kingdom in support of a push for a republic.[12] The Minister of Legal and Constitutional Affairs, Marlene Malahoo Forte, announced that the transition is to be completed by the time of next general election, currently scheduled to be in 2025.[13] Popular support for republicanism accelerated following the death of Elizabeth II.[14][15] In the lead-up to King Charles III's coronation on 6 May 2023, Forte stated that a referendum could even be held in 2024 and emphasised that the coronation itself accelerated this process.[16] In February 2024, the government announced in the Throne Speech that the legislative priorities for the next parliamentary year will focus on "amendments towards establishing the Republic of Jamaica".[17] However, the following month Forte stated that legislation around a transition to a republic was unlikely to be passed in 2024.[18]

Opinion polling

A 2012 poll showed that 45% supported the move to a republic with 40% in opposition.[19]

A 2020 poll showed 55% of respondents in Jamaica wanted the country to become a republic.[20]

A Don Anderson poll conducted in 2022 showed 59% support for becoming a republic, with 27% in opposition.[19]

An Ashcroft poll conducted in February and March 2023 showed that 49% of respondents supported the country becoming a republic, with 40% opposing and 11% not knowing or would not vote.[21]

August and September 2023 found support for becoming a republic at 45%, with 26% opposing.[22]

Legal process

All amendments to the Constitution of Jamaica must be approved by an absolute majority in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. However, certain sections of the constitution, including those pertaining to the monarchy, can only be amended if they are approved by a two-thirds majority in both houses and submitted to a referendum.[23]

See also


  1. ^ McLeod, Sheri-Kae (8 June 2022). "Jamaican Government Gives 2025 Timeline to Become Republic". Caribbean News Weekly. Retrieved 12 September 2022.
  2. ^ Munroe, Trevor (1972). The Politics of Constitutional Decolonization: Jamaica, 1944-62. Institute of Social and Economic Research, University of the West Indies. p. 144.
  3. ^ O'Brien, Derek (26 May 2016). "Jamaica's drift towards republicanism: Possible consequences for the Caribbean". ConstitutionNet. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  4. ^ Vasciannie, Stephen (29 November 2015). "Reflections on the Republic of Jamaica". The Jamaica Observer. Archived from the original on 30 November 2015. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  5. ^ a b Burke, Michael (21 April 2016). "Queen, emperor and republican status". The Jamaica Observer. Archived from the original on 22 April 2016. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  6. ^ "Jamaica eyes republican future". BBC News. 22 September 2003. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  7. ^ "Editorial: The Monarchy And Beyond". The Jamaica Gleaner. 12 September 2015. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  8. ^ "Jamaica will become a republic, new prime minister vows". The Guardian. Associated Press. 6 January 2012. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  9. ^ Crilly, Rob (16 April 2016). "Jamaica unveils plan to ditch Queen as head of state". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  10. ^ "PNP vows to hold referendum on whether to remove Queen, if elected". Jamaica Gleaner. 8 August 2020. Retrieved 7 November 2022.
  11. ^ "Editorial | PM's governance agenda needs clarity". Jamaica Gleaner. 8 September 2020. Retrieved 7 November 2022.
  12. ^ "Patterson resigns as Privy Council member". Radio Jamaica News. 14 April 2022. Retrieved 7 November 2022.
  13. ^ "Jamaica eyes Republic status by next general election". Loop News. 8 June 2022. Retrieved 9 June 2022.
  14. ^ Smith, David (16 September 2022). "'Moment of reckoning': Queen's death fuels Jamaica's republican movement". The Guardian. Retrieved 17 September 2022.
  15. ^ Wintour, Patrick; Holmes, Oliver (10 September 2022). "King Charles's ascension ignites debate over royals across Commonwealth". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 November 2022.
  16. ^ Choudhry, Sabah (4 May 2023). "Jamaica: King's coronation accelerates plans for Jamaican republic – with referendum 'as early as 2024'". Sky News. Jamaica. Retrieved 5 May 2023.
  17. ^ "Critical Aspects of Road to Republic Sensitisation Implemented by Gov't". Jamaica Information Service. 15 February 2024.
  18. ^ "Jamaica becoming a republic still some way off, says Constitutional Affairs Minister". Radio Jamaica News. 6 March 2024. Retrieved 14 April 2024.
  19. ^ a b "Most Jamaicans In Favour Of Abandoning British Monarchy - RJRGLEANER Don Anderson Poll". Retrieved 16 October 2023.
  20. ^ "55% of respondents say The Queen must go". Jamaica Observer. 10 August 2020. Archived from the original on 1 December 2020.
  22. ^ "11 point decline in support for Jamaica becoming a republic". Retrieved 27 September 2023.
  23. ^ "The Jamaica (Constitution) Order in Council 1962" (PDF). Retrieved 25 March 2022.