Jamaican Politics

The Jamaican politics takes place in a framework of a representative parliamentary democratic monarchy. The 1962 Constitution established a parliamentary system based on the United Kingdom model. As chief of state, Queen Elizabeth II appoints a governor general, on the advice of the prime minister, as her representative in Jamaica. The governor general’s role is largely ceremonial. Executive power is vested in the cabinet, led by the Prime Minister. Jamaica is an independent country and Commonwealth Realm. It is a parliamentary democracy whose political and legal traditions closely follow those of the United Kingdom. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and parliament. Jamaica’s current Constitution was drafted in 1962 by a bipartisan joint committee of the Jamaican legislature. It came into force with the Jamaica Independence Act, 1962 of the United Kingdom Parliament, which gave Jamaica political independence

The Jamaican bicameral parliament consists of an elected House of Representatives and an upper house called the Senate. General elections take place every 5 years, with 2 major political parties, the governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) (governing since 2007) and the People’s National Party (PNP) being the main contenders. There are 60 elected Members of Parliament in the lower house, while the Senate consists of 21 Senators. These Senators are appointed by the Governor general upon the recommendation of the Prime Minister and the Leader of the opposition. Both houses of Parliament meet at Gordon House, named after national hero, George William Gordon.

The Cabinet is the principal instrument of Government policy. It is currently headed by Prime Minister, the Honorable Andrew Holness and a group of 21 selected Members of Parliament who each hold a ministerial portfolio.

The central government is supplemented by a local government system, in which the island’s 14 parishes and the newly created municipality of Portmore. The local government system gets financial grants from the central government, handles matters of local interest such as sanitation, public health, and the maintenance of parks and markets. With the exception of the Parishes of Kingston and St. Andrew, parishes are governed by Parish Councils, elected every 3 years and led by a mayor. Kingston and St. Andrew is administered by the Kingston and St. Andrew Corporation (KSAC), with sitting Mayor of Kingston, Councilor Desmond McKenzie.

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