|The fifteenth General Parliamentary Elections were held in Jamaica on 3 September 2007 for all 60 seats in the House of Representatives. Election were held following premature dissolution of this body on 25 July 2007, and had originally been scheduled for 27 August 2007 but were delayed due to Hurricane Dean.
The 60 members of the House of Representatives are elected in single-member constituencies by first-past-the-post voting. 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.
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. 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.
Following a hurricane that hit the country in mid-August 2007 parliamentary elections which had been originally scheduled for 27 August were postponed to 3 September.
In the previous elections held in October 2002 the People's National Party (PNP) had won 34 seats while the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) had taken the remaining 26 seats. In March 2006 Ms. Portia Simpson-Miller succeeded Mr. P.J. Patterson to become the country's first woman prime minister. Shortly before calling the elections on 8 July she made a series of promises including abolishing healthcare fees for children under 18 years and helping Jamaicans to acquire their own homes.
Political Parties & Candidates
The elections were largely a contest between the governing People's National Party (PNP) and the opposition Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).
A total of 146 candidates contested the 2007 elections. The two major political parties - the People's National Party (PNP) and the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) - each nominated 60 candidates - while the National Democratic Movement (NDM) has put up 11 candidates. The Imperial Ethiopian World Federation Incorporation Party has nine candidates.
Ras Astor Black of the Jamaica Alliance Movement and Ivuwaqayliz Yuwakhid of the Jerusalem Bread Foundation were also nominated, while four independents have joined the race for a seat in the House of Representatives.
As in previous elections both parties pledged to foster economic growth fight poverty and crime. JLP leader Mr. Golding promised to reorganize government bureaucracy and to boost economic growth by attracting foreign investment. The JLP's manifesto also included amending the Constitution to integrate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and provide for the impeachment of public officials. The government insisted that the country could not afford to implement the JLP promises of free secondary education and health care. The Prime Minister came under severe criticism for her late response to the hurricane disaster.
Although several violent incidents were reported prior to the elections the actual voting went off in relative peace. Some polling stations opened late due to lack of election documents. The Organization of American States (OAS) which sent 38 observers said there was no widespread violence.
The preliminary results indicated a slim victory for the opposition Jamaican Labour Party led by Bruce Golding, which grew by two seats from 31-29 to 33-27 after official recounts. The JLP defeated the People's National Party after eighteen years of unbroken governance.
On 11 September Golding took the oath of office as the country's new Prime Minister. On 25 September he named 13 government senators (including two women) while Ms. Simpson-Miller named the remaining eight senators (including one woman).
On 27 September the newly-elected members of the House of Representatives were sworn in alongside the newly-appointed senators. The House elected Delroy Chuck as its new Speaker while the Senate elected Oswald Harding as its President.
Voter turnout was 61.46%.