Jamaica. In April, the new leader of the People’s National Party (PNP), Peter Phillips, was sworn into the post of formal leader of the opposition in parliament. He replaced former Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller, both as party leader and opposition leader. The post of opposition leader goes to the leader of the largest party in parliament who is not in office. According to Countryaah.com, 72-year-old Simpson-Miller chose to leave politics and held his last speech in parliament in June. She became the country’s first prime minister in 2006 and was the head of government twice, in 2006–07 and in 2012–16. Following the 2016 election loss, many within the PNP demanded that she step down as party leader, which she did in March 2017. See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for frequently used acronyms and abbreviations related to as well as country profile of Jamaica.
The increasingly important tourism industry continued to grow during the year and the government announced a commitment to the port of Ocho Rios on the island’s northern coast. According to a statement by Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett in April, US $ 14 million had been set aside to make the port ready to receive really large cruise ships.
Even before the achievement of full independence, obtained in August 1962, the Jamaican political system was characterized by the alternation between two poles: the Jamaica Labor Party (JLP), of populist origin which later transformed into a conservative sense, and the People’s National Party (PNP), nationalist and progressive. On the economic level, Jamaica’s dependence on exports of primary products and on foreign investments (in particular North Americans) remained constant, while imports of industrial goods, food and oil kept the trade balance passive and contributed to the growth of a high foreign debt. High unemployment also accentuated tensions in the country, fueling social protest. During the 1980s and 1990s, privatizations, incentives for foreign investment and the reduction of public spending and domestic consumption were not enough to improve the situation of the Jamaican economy. Once in government,
After the resignation for health reasons of M. Manley, prime minister since 1989, it was another member of the PNP, PJ Patterson, who formed a new government in March 1992, which remained at the helm of the country for a year. The early elections held in March 1993 registered the clear success of the PNP, which obtained 60 % of the votes and 52 seats out of 60, and Patterson’s personal affirmation, attributable in large part to the support he received from the majority of the population of African descent. Confirmed prime minister, Patterson continued the policy of his predecessor in the following years, maintaining good relations with the United States and adopting restrictive measures in the economic field. It was, on the whole, a moderate policy compared to that deployed by the first Manley governments between 1972 and 1980.: the economic conditions of the country led to austerity measures agreed with the International Monetary Fund and to the search for Washington’s support to revive foreign investments and obtain a more favorable attitude of international creditors (this had not prevented the resumption of relations in 1990 diplomatic relations with Cuba, with which a treaty was then signed in 1994 for the delimitation of the maritime border).
Despite the growth of the tourism sector and some manufacturing industry, in subsequent years the economic situation remained difficult, especially due to the high inflation rate (the 19, 9 % in 1995), which was added unemployment, which it concerned about 16 % of the workforce. The request for an increase in wages and salaries was thus the basis of the numerous strikes that between 1994 and 1996 affected both the public sector and industrial workers, while in 1998 various protests throughout the country indicated a growing malaise due to the continuous deterioration of living conditions (particularly worrying were the phenomena of violence and widespread crime, also connected with drug trafficking).
However, popular discontent did not turn out to be such as to overthrow the government: Patterson and his party also won victory in the December 1997 elections: the PNP won 56 % of the votes and 50 seats, while the JLP obtained 39 % of the votes and 10 seats. Also reducing the opposition’s chances of success was the presence of the National Democratic Movement (NDM), founded in October 1995 on the initiative of the resigning president of the JLP, B. Golding, in open conflict with the party secretary E. Seaga. The NDM only got 5% of the vote, but the very existence of a third political force favored Patterson’s appeal to the electorate to avoid excessive political fragmentation and further instability by supporting the ruling party.