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Story Highlights

  • Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says the registration of political parties will ensure greater transparency and accountability, and is transformational for the country’s democracy.
  • “Today’s launch is another manifestation of the Government’s focus on institutional reform, in order to ensure our political and economic environment is conducive to productivity, transparency and growth,” he said.
  • The Regulations, which fall under the Representation of the People Act, provides a framework for the registration and deregistration of political parties, the monitoring of their finances, and also facilitates a system whereby an accurate and up-to-date record can be kept on each political party.

Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says the registration of political parties will ensure greater transparency and accountability, and is transformational for the country’s democracy.

Speaking at the official launch of political parties registration, at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston on January 15, the Prime Minister said this is a milestone achievement in the history of Jamaica.

“Today’s launch is another manifestation of the Government’s focus on institutional reform, in order to ensure our political and economic environment is conducive to productivity, transparency and growth,” he said.

The Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ) began registering political parties on January 2, in keeping with the Political Parties Registration Regulations, 2017.

The Regulations, which fall under the Representation of the People Act, provides a framework for the registration and deregistration of political parties, the monitoring of their finances, and also facilitates a system whereby an accurate and up-to-date record can be kept on each political party.

The Prime Minister said the legislation formalises political parties, which are now required to provide details of their operations, “thereby lifting the veil, because there is a sense that political parties are unregulated private fraternities”.

He noted that the registration of political parties represents a “major shift” in how these institutions have been viewed in the history of Jamaica, and stressed that political parties must now lead from the front and set their houses in order. “We must ensure that the mask of anonymity is removed,” he added.

“With the requirement of registration of political parties, we have now ensured that there is a legislative underpinning that ensures objectivity and adherence to set standards and procedures without regard to who is in power,” the Prime Minister said.

He argued that Jamaica continues to be on the frontier of strengthening its political processes, noting that these recent regulations “again place us as leader in political institutional reform in the Caribbean”.

Meanwhile, Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Peter Phillips, said the legislation is an important step forward in achieving greater accountability of political parties, and ensuring continued regulation of their activities as part of the country’s electoral system.

“The registration of political parties will give greater oversight and accountability in the operations of the political parties, and that can be a key step in helping to raise the basic level of trust on the part of the population,” he said.

With the enactment of the legislation, political parties intending to contest the polls in elections and referenda must be registered with the ECJ. Persons wishing to contest elections who are not members of registered political parties can still do so as independent candidates. Additionally, political parties will be mandated by law to make statutory reports of their financial standing at the end of each financial year.

The implementation of political party registration and financing is expected to advance democracy by enhancing transparency in the operation of political parties, the source and use of funds, thus resulting in greater public confidence in these institutions and promoting equal access among participants.

To date, the two major political parties have submitted their applications. During the launch, Prime Minister Holness and Dr. Phillips were presented with Provisional Certificates of Registration by Chairman of the ECJ, Dorothy Pine-McLarty.