Jamaica has a parliamentary democracy system under a constitutional monarchy. It gained its independence in 1962 from the UK and had a constitution that has been amended several times since it was first drafted in 1962. The latest amendment to the Constitution was made in 2015. The Jamaican system of laws is derived from English law.
The Executive Branch Of The Government Of Jamaica
The Chief of State in Jamaica is Queen Elizabeth II ever since 1952, and the governor general represents the monarch. The incumbent Governor General is Dr. Patrick Allen who took office in 2009. The governor is appointed on recommendations from the Jamaican Prime Minister. The Governor is not expected to have any affiliation to a political party in Jamaica, and most of the legislative powers of the Governor-General are to pardon convicted criminals facing the death sentence. The Monarch appoints the Governor General once recommended by the Prime Minister.
The head of the government is the Prime Minister, and the incumbent is Andrew Holmes who took office on March 3, 2016. The cabinet is appointed by the Governor-General on the basis of the Prime Minister's advice. After the parliamentary elections, the leader of the majority party in the House of the Representatives (lower house) is appointed by the governor general as the prime minister.
The Legislative Branch Of The Government Of Jamaica
Jamaica has a bicameral parliamentary system consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Senate has 21 senators who are nominated but appointed by the governor general together with 13members from the ruling party on the recommendation of the prime minister. Governor General also appoints minority party leader and eight members allocated to the minority party. Member of the Senate serves for five years. There are only four ministers appointed from the Senate. The Senate works as a reviewing body rubber stamping bills passed by the House of Representatives, and may also initiate legislations other than bills touching on government finances.
The House of Representatives has 63 seats made up of members elected directly by simple majority vote who serve for five years. The last election in Jamaica was held in 2011, and the next one will be held not later than December 2016. The governor general dissolves the parliament just before the general election in the country. The government of Jamaica derives its legitimate power by having the support of the majority in the house of the representatives. All bills that are eventually enacted must have been passed by the majority of the House of Representatives. The lower house has control over the finances of the government and no funds, or taxation can be levied without the approval of the house.
The Judicial Branch
The highest courts in Jamaica are the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. Court of Appeal comprises of the president of the court and at least four other judges. On the other hand, the Supreme Court is made up of 40 judges structured into specific divisions. Any appeals going beyond the Supreme Court and the court of appeal in the country will be heard in London by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council instead of the Caribbean Court of Justice, the entire Caribbean's highest court that was created by the member states.
With the Prime Minister's advice, the governor general appoints the president of the court of appeal and also the Chief Justice of the country's Supreme Court. The Judicial Service Commission also advise the governor general in appointing other judges of the two courts. All Judges of the court of appeal and Supreme Court retire at the age of 70. Other subordinate courts in the country include district courts, resident magistrate courts, and petty session courts.
Other Administrative Divisions Of The Government Of Jamaica
There are 14 Parishes in Jamaica which include Kingston, Clarendon, Saint Catherine, Westmoreland, Saint James, Hanover, Portland, Saint Mary, Saint Andrew, Saint Ann, Trelawny, Saint Elizabeth, Saint Thomas, and Manchester. For local government administration, Saint Andrew and Kingston were merged in 1923into a single corporate body it is today known as the Kingston and Saint Andrew Corporation
What Kind of Government Does Jamaica Have?
Jamaica has a parliamentary democracy system under a constitutional monarchy. It gained its independence in 1962 from the UK and had a constitution that has been amended several times since it was first drafted in 1962.
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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