Republicanism in Jamaica

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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.

Jamaica Country in the Caribbean

Jamaica is an island country situated in the Caribbean Sea. Spanning 10,990 square kilometres (4,240 sq mi) in area, it is the third-largest island of the Greater Antilles and the fourth-largest island country in the Caribbean. Jamaica lies about 145 kilometres (90 mi) south of Cuba, and 191 kilometres (119 mi) west of Hispaniola.

A constitutional monarchy is a form of monarchy in which the sovereign exercises authority in accordance with a written or unwritten constitution. Constitutional monarchy differs from absolute monarchy in that constitutional monarchs are bound to exercise their powers and authorities within the limits prescribed within an established legal framework. Constitutional monarchies range from countries such as Morocco, Jordan, Kuwait and Bahrain, where the constitution grants substantial discretionary powers to the sovereign, to countries such as Japan and Sweden where the monarch retains no formal authorities.

A republic is a form of government in which the country is considered a “public matter”, not the private concern or property of the rulers. The primary positions of power within a republic are not inherited, but are attained through democracy, oligarchy or autocracy. It is a form of government under which the head of state is not a hereditary monarch.



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". 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. [1] 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. [2]

Parliament of Jamaica

The Parliament of Jamaica is the legislative branch of the government of Jamaica. It consists of three elements: the Crown, the appointed Senate and the directly elected House of Representatives.

A joint committee is a committee made up of members of both chambers of a bicameral legislature. In other contexts, it refers to a committee with members from more than one organization.

A select committee is a committee made up of a small number of parliamentary members appointed to deal with particular areas or issues originating in the Westminster system of parliamentary democracy. Select committees exist in the British Parliament, as well as in other parliaments based on the Westminster model, such as those in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, India and New Zealand.


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. [3]

Michael Manley Jamaican politician

Michael Norman Manley ON OCC was a Jamaican politician who served as the fourth Prime Minister of Jamaica from 1972 to 1980 and from 1989 to 1992. Coming from a prosperous background, Manley was a democratic socialist. According to opinion polls, he remains one of Jamaica's most popular prime ministers.

Peoples National Party Jamaican political party

The People's National Party (PNP) is a social-democratic political party in Jamaica, founded in 1938 by activist Osmond Theodore Fairclough. It holds 30 of the 63 seats in the House of Representatives, as well as a majority of local government bodies, with 151 of the 228 divisions. The party is democratic socialist by constitution.

Morant Bay rebellion war

The Morant Bay rebellion began with a protest march to the courthouse by hundreds of people led by preacher Paul Bogle in Morant Bay, Jamaica. Some were armed with sticks and stones. After seven men were shot and killed by the volunteer militia, the protesters attacked and burned the court house and nearby buildings. A total of 25 people died. Over the next two days, peasants rose up across St. Thomas-in-the-East parish and controlled most of the area.

In 2002, the PNP government led by P. J. Patterson abolished the requirement for public servants to take an oath of allegiance to the monarch. At a PNP party 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" and "the majority of people in Jamaica are ready to consign to history the last vestiges of colonialism". [4] 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. [3]

P. J. Patterson Jamaican politician, Prime Minister of Jamaica 1992–2006

Percival Noel James Patterson, ON, PC, QC, is a Jamaican former politician who served as the sixth Prime Minister of Jamaica from 1992 to 2006. He was the leader of the People's National Party from 1992 to 2006, and the Member of Parliament (MP) for the constituency of Westmoreland South Eastern from 1970 to 1980 and again from 1989 to 1993. Following a constituency reorganization, he served as the MP for Westmoreland Eastern from 1993 to 2006. He retired from all of these positions in March 2006. He was married to Shirley Field-Ridley with whom he had two children, Richard and Sharon.

Oath of allegiance oath whereby a subject or citizen acknowledges a duty of allegiance and swears loyalty to the state

An oath of allegiance is an oath whereby a subject or citizen acknowledges a duty of allegiance and swears loyalty to monarch or country. In republics, modern oaths specify allegiance to the country in general, or to the country's constitution. For example, officials in the United States, a republic, take an oath of office that includes swearing allegiance to the United States Constitution. However, in a constitutional monarchy, such as in the United Kingdom, Australia and other Commonwealth realms, oaths are sworn to the monarch. Armed forces typically require a military oath.

Judicial Committee of the Privy Council judicial body in the United Kingdom

The Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC) is the highest court of appeal for certain British territories and Commonwealth countries. Established on 13 August 1833 to hear appeals formerly heard by the King-in-Council, the Privy Council formerly acted as the court of last resort for the entire British Empire, and continues to act as the highest court of appeal for several independent Commonwealth nations, the Crown Dependencies, and the British Overseas Territories.

The PNP government was defeated at 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 government came to an end at the 2011 general election without any formal steps towards a republic having been taken. [5] Portia Simpson-Miller, the PNP leader and new prime minister, also publicly affirmed her government's commitment to republicanism, stating a preference for an elected president. [6] 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 government would introduce a bill to replace the Queen with "a non-executive president as head of state". [7]

Bruce Golding Jamaican politician; Prime Minister of Jamaica

Orette Bruce Golding is a former Jamaican politician who served as eighth Prime Minister of Jamaica from 11 September 2007 to 23 October 2011. He is a member of the Jamaica Labour Party which he led from 2005 to his resignation in 2011.

Portia Simpson-Miller politician

Portia Lucretia Simpson-Miller,, is a Jamaican politician. She served as Prime Minister of Jamaica from March 2006 to September 2007 and again from 5 January 2012 to 3 March 2016. She was the leader of the People's National Party from 2006 to 2017 and the Leader of the Opposition twice, from 2007 to 2012 and from 2016 to 2017.

Andrew Holness 9th Prime minister of Jamaica

Andrew Michael Holness, ON, MP is a Jamaican politician who has been the Prime Minister of Jamaica since 3 March 2016, following the 25 February 2016 general election. Holness previously served as Prime Minister from October 2011 to January 5, 2012. He succeeded Bruce Golding as Prime Minister, and decided to go to the polls in the 29 December 2011 general election in an attempt to get his own mandate from the Jamaican electorate. He failed in that bid, however, losing badly to the People's National Party led by Portia Simpson-Miller, with the PNP gaining 42 seats to the Jamaica Labour Party's 21. Following that defeat, Holness served as Leader of the Opposition from January 2012 to March 2016, when he once again assumed the position of Prime Minister.

All amendments to the Constitution of Jamaica must be approved by a two-thirds 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 also submitted to a referendum. [1]

The Constitution of Jamaica is the constitution and highest law of Jamaica.

A referendum is a direct vote in which an entire electorate is invited to vote on a particular proposal. This may result in the adoption of a new law. In some countries, it is synonymous with a plebiscite or a vote on a ballot question.

Uniquely Jamaican monarch

It has been suggested that Jamaica should have a uniquely Jamaican monarch, who would reside permanently in Jamaica, and who would not be in a personal union with the monarch of the United Kingdom. It has been claimed that this would be a suitable compromise between monarchists and republicans. This proposal, however, does not have mainstream political support.

See also

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  1. 1 2 Derek O'Brien, "Jamaica’s drift towards republicanism: Possible consequences for the Caribbean", ConstitutionNet, 26 May 2016. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  2. Stephen Vasciannie, "Reflections on the Republic of Jamaica", The Jamaica Observer , 29 November 2015. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  3. 1 2 Michael Burke, "Queen, emperor and republican status", The Jamaica Observer , 21 April 2016. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  4. "Jamaica eyes republican future", BBC News, 22 September 2003. Retrieved 2 September 2016.
  5. "Editorial: The Monarchy And Beyond", The Jamaica Gleaner , 12 September 2015. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  6. "Jamaica will become a republic, new prime minister vows", The Guardian , 6 January 2012. Retrieved 3 September 2016.
  7. Rob Crilly, "Jamaica unveils plan to ditch Queen as head of state", The Telegraph , 16 April 2016. Retrieved 3 September 2016.