2016 Jamaican general election

General elections were held in Jamaica on 25 February 2016. The elections were largely a contest between the governing People's National Party (PNP) and the opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP). The result was a narrow victory for the JLP, which won 32 of the 63 seats. One political commentator described the poll as "the closest election Jamaica has ever had".[1]

2016 Jamaican general election

← 2011 25 February 2016 2020 →

All 63 seats in the Jamaica House of Representatives
32 seats needed for a majority
  First party Second party
  Andrew Holness Press (cropped).jpg Portia Miller Shoot.Jpeg
Leader Andrew Holness Portia Simpson-Miller
Leader since 23 October 2011 26 February 2006
Leader's seat St Andrew West Central St Andrew South Western
Last election 21 seats, 46.6% 42 seats, 53.4%
Seats won 32 31
Seat change Increase 11 Decrease 11
Popular vote 437,178 433,629
Percentage 50.1% 49.7%
Swing Increase 3.5pp Decrease 3.7pp

Jamaica general election 2016 - Results by Constituency.svg
Map of result by constituency. Colours denote the winning party, shades indicate the plurality of votes in each constituency. All constituencies are numbered, with labels at the bottom.

Prime Minister before election

Portia Simpson-Miller

Subsequent Prime Minister

Andrew Holness

The JLP's share of the vote was the lowest for a winning party since 1962, when the JLP won 50.1% of the vote, and its resulting majority in the House of Representatives was the narrowest since the 1949 elections. A similarly close election occurred in 2007, in which two seats changed hands on recounts.


Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller announced the date of the general election on 31 January 2016. The nomination date of 9 February 2016 was also announced.[2] The election can be considered as having been called early, as it was constitutionally due between 29 December 2016 (the date in 2011 of the previous general election) and 16 April 2017 (within five years and three months of the date in 2012 of the first sitting of the new Parliament, on 17 January). There is no fixed election date in effect in Jamaica at this time; hence, the choice of election date is the prerogative of the Prime Minister.[3]

Electoral systemEdit

The 63 members of the House of Representatives are elected in single-member constituencies by first-past-the-post voting.[4] The Representation of the People Act permits the candidacy of voters above the age of 21. Any Commonwealth citizen residing in Jamaica can vote in the election if they are older than 18 years.[5] To be included on the ballot, a nomination must include the signatures of at least ten eligible voters from the same constituency. The nomination form must then be submitted during a four-hour period on nomination day.[6]


A total of 152 candidates registered to contest the elections, with both the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and the People's National Party (PNP) nominating a candidate in every constituency.[7] Minor parties put forward a small number of candidates, with seven from the National Democratic Movement, six from the Marcus Garvey People's Progressive Party and two from the People's Progressive Party.[8]


Preliminary results saw the opposition JLP gaining a total of twelve seats, taking a slender three-seat majority over the governing PNP in the House of Representatives. No other parties were elected. Among those elected were Robert Montague, Chairman of the JLP, and Juliet Holness.[9] The voter turnout of 47.7% was the lowest since 1983, the year when the PNP boycotted the election.[10] JLP leader Andrew Holness became Prime Minister-designate, regaining the position he lost to Simpson-Miller after the previous election in 2011.[11]

Subsequently, however, a recount in the St. Mary South East constituency led to a 127-vote margin in favour of the JLP being overturned and the result being called for the PNP by 9 votes, narrowing the margin in the House to 32–31. The recount in St. Mary South East had also called into question results in St. Ann South West, St. James South, St. Catherine North Eastern, and St. Andrew Eastern, which were decided by similarly narrow margins.[12]

After recounts, the JLP was declared to have 32 seats to the PNP's 31, a bare majority of one. The JLP planned to contest the St. Mary South East recount that saw its margin narrow. The final count, as authorised by the Electoral Commission, was announced on 2 March.[13]

Jamaica Labour Party436,97250.0832+11
People's National Party433,73549.7131–11
Marcus Garvey People's Political Party2600.0300
National Democratic Movement2230.0300
People's Progressive Party910.010New
Valid votes872,51498.88
Invalid/blank votes9,8751.12
Total votes882,389100.00
Registered voters/turnout1,824,41248.37
Source: Electoral Commission of Jamaica


The new parliament was convened on 10 March 2016,[14] meaning that constitutionally the next general elections will be due between 25 February 2021 (five years after the date of this election) and 10 June 2021 (within five years and three months of the date of the first sitting of the new Parliament), unless elections are called earlier by the Prime Minister.

A by-election in St. Mary South-East was held on 30 October 2017 following the death of PNP incumbent Winston Green. The seat was won by Norman Dunn of the JLP,[15] giving them a three-seat majority in parliament.


  1. ^ "PM, JLP, political ombudsman remind J'cans that recount is normal process - News". The Jamaica Observer. Retrieved 29 February 2016.
  2. ^ Luton, Daraine (31 January 2016). "Breaking News: Election Day Is February 25". Jamaica Gleaner. Retrieved 31 January 2016.
  3. ^ Anderson-Brown, Winnie (7 July 2007). "Issue: Time for fixed election date". Jamaica Gleaner. Retrieved 28 February 2016.
  4. ^ "Jamaica (House of Representatives) Electoral System". Inter-Parliamentary Union. Retrieved 28 February 2016.
  5. ^ "The Representation of The People Act" (PDF). Ministry of Justice. Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 March 2016. Retrieved 28 February 2016.
  6. ^ "Nomination Day: How Does It Work?". diGJamaica. Retrieved 29 February 2016.
  7. ^ "Nomination day highlights". The Jamaica Observer. 11 February 2016. Retrieved 19 February 2016.
  8. ^ Serju, Christopher (16 February 2016). "Independents Unite To Unseat PNP, JLP". Jamaica Gleaner. Retrieved 19 February 2016.
  9. ^ Spaulding, Gary (26 February 2016). "Ja goes green - JLP prosperity message trumps ruling party". Jamaica Gleaner. Retrieved 29 February 2016.
  10. ^ "Youth tell why they abstained". The Jamaica Observer. 28 February 2016. Retrieved 29 February 2016.
  11. ^ Kebede, Rebekah (26 February 2016). "Jamaica's opposition wins general election as voters tire of austerity". Reuters. Retrieved 29 February 2016.
  12. ^ "Official ballots count not completed, but 32 seats declared to JLP, 31 PNP". Jamaica Gleaner. Retrieved 29 February 2016.
  13. ^ "Final Counting of Ballots for General Election 2016". Electoral Commission of Jamaica. Retrieved 3 March 2016.
  14. ^ Prime Minister’s Address at Opening of the New Session of Parliament Office of the Prime Minister
  15. ^ By-Election 2017: JLP's Dunn wins St Mary SE seat Jamaica Observer, 30 October 2017