In practice, Jamaica has a two-party system
with two parties replacing each other in office. The
right-wing Jamaica Workers' Party (JLP) returned to
power in 2016, after four years in opposition. New Prime
Minister Andrew Holness, who also held the post for a
couple of months in 2011.
In the February elections, the Jamaica Workers' Party
(JLP) defeated the Socialist People's Nationalist Party
(PNP) with just one mandate takeover in the House of
Representatives. The result was the smoothest since
independence in 1962 and was only established after a
recalculation of the votes. It still constituted a
substantial revenge for JLP after the previous election
when the party collapsed and received only one third of
Country facts and history of Jamaica, including state flag, location map, demographics, GDP data, currency code, and business statistics.
Now JLP and Holness returned with promises to
transform the tax system so that significantly fewer pay
income tax. Tax reform is part of a ten-point plan that
JLP launched prior to the election to stimulate the
economy and create jobs. A key element of the plan is to
reduce the bureaucracy for business.
According to analysts, a key reason for PNP's
election defeat became that party leader and incumbent
Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller refused to debate
with the JLP about the party's ten-point plan. PNP
presented its own election manifesto only nine days
before Election Day, which was also considered to be the
party in the barrel.
Promise of Republic
When the new JLP government took office in March
2016, Holness created a new Ministry of Economic Growth
and Job Creation. He himself became Minister in the new
Ministry, as well as for the Ministry of Defense.
In addition to raising the threshold for income tax
and certain privatizations of state assets, Holness has
promised a referendum to replace Jamaica's highest legal
authority (see Political system). The government also
wants to introduce fixed terms of office and a
limitation on the number of terms of office for the head
of government. In addition, like previous PNP
governments, the JLP has ruled that Jamaica will be
transformed from monarchy to republic. Such a
constitutional change requires a two-thirds majority in
Parliament, so in order for the state of law to change,
the two parties must be able to agree on the details.
The government must also continue to deal with the
serious challenge posed by the criminal leagues. Holness
and the state prosecutor have defined crime as a serious
brake on economic growth. Ever since the violence
erupted in an effort to arrest a drug king in 2010 (see
Modern History), more and more Jamaicans also see the
gang as a threat to the state itself. From 2015, the
strengthened efforts of the security forces have
contributed to an increase in the violence and the
number of murders committed, after several years of
decline. Several gang leaders have been arrested, which
seems to have resulted in the leagues being split and
becoming more, and to have taken more violence.
In recent years, gang-related violence has also
spread from the big cities to smaller rural areas.
International drug traffic
A major cause of the violence is Jamaica's
geographical location on the road between Colombia and
other drug-producing countries in South America and the
United States, where a large number of drugs are
smuggled. High unemployment, social misery, poverty and
the large amount of weapons in circulation in urban
slums contribute to the problems.
Another factor that is considered to have spiked on
gang violence in recent years is lottery fraud over the
phone that provides multi-million income. It is mainly
people in the United States who are exposed and the
leagues contend with access to telephone lists,
telecommunications service centers and technical
equipment used for the scam.
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FACTS - POLITICS
monarchy, unitary state
Head of State
Queen Elizabeth II of Britain (1952–)
Head of government
Prime Minister Andrew Holness (2016–)
Most important parties with mandates in the
Jamaica's Workers' Party (JLP) 32, People's National
Party (PNP) 31 (2016)
Main parties with mandates in the second most
National People's Party (PNP) 42, Jamaica's Workers'
Party (JLP) 21 (2011)
47% in the 2016 parliamentary elections
parliamentary elections by 2021