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Will Jamaica Become A Republic?

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juliet_holness_prime_minister_andrew_holness_prince_william_kate_middletonWill Jamaica Become a Republic? | (Photo: urbanislandz.com)

by Venesha Johnson | Associate Writer

With Her Majesty the Queen's recent passing, earlier discussions have resurfaced of Jamaica potentially becoming a republic.

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Is Jamaica a republic country?

No. Jamaica is a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy. The Governor-General of Jamaica is the local representative of the King of Jamaica, who is currently King Charles III, who serves as the head of state.

The Jamaican Prime Minister and the Cabinet nominate candidates for governor-general, whom the monarch formally appoints. On the prime minister's recommendation, the governor-general appoints each member of the Cabinet.

Except for the reserve powers they can use in certain constitutional crises, the monarch and governor-general primarily play ceremonial roles.

Does Jamaica still need the King?

His Majesty continues to play a significant ceremonial and symbolic role in Jamaican life as The Queen of Jamaica. A Governor-General chosen on the advice of the Jamaican Prime Minister represents the King on the island.

The role of the Governor-General is primarily ceremonial. Before any laws passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate in Jamaica can go into effect, the Governor-General, who represents the King, must give his or her formal assent.

Additionally, he or she appoints ministers and announces the general election date. The Governor-General typically follows the Prime Minister's recommendations.

What does it mean to become a republic?

A republic is a system of government where the representatives of the citizen body rule the state. Though who falls into the category of the people has changed over time, the idea that sovereignty belongs to the people is the foundation of modern republics.

Republics can be distinguished from direct democracies because citizens do not govern the state directly but rather through representatives, even though most contemporary representative democracies are republics.

Any type of government where the head of state is not a hereditary monarch may also be referred to as a republic.

Power rests with the people in a republic, representatives are required to represent their constituents within the bounds of a predetermined body of laws, and a clear separation of powers facilitates effective decision-making by the government.

What will happen to Jamaica in 2025?

The Jamaican government declared in June 2022 that it intended for the country to become a republic by the time of the subsequent election in 2025.

The House of Representatives and the Senate, both of which must have an absolute majority to pass any amendments to the Jamaican Constitution.

However, the constitution's monarchy-related provisions can only be changed if they are accepted by a two-thirds majority in both houses and put to a referendum.

Will Jamaica become a republic?

One can not truly tell, but it appears to be heading in that direction. This however isn't a first-time plan for Jamaica. After his People's National Party (PNP) won the general election in 1972, Michael Manley became the first prime minister of Jamaica to take steps toward establishing a republic.

In July 1977, following a march to remember the Morant Bay rebellion, Manley declared that Jamaica would become a republic by the year 1981. In 1975, his government established a commission for constitutional reform.

However, the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), led by Edward Seaga, won the general election in 1980, ousting his administration in favour of a more conservative party. Seaga was a Republican as well, and in 1977 he stated that he preferred a "ceremonial presidency."

Despite this, during his tenure as premier, no significant steps toward a republic were taken.

In the general election of 2007, the PNP lost. The JLP's tenure in Cabinet ended in 2011, but the new prime minister, JLP leader Bruce Golding, pledged that his administration would "amend the constitution to replace the Queen with a Jamaican president who symbolises the unity of the nation”.

After that, the PNP leader and new prime minister, Portia Simpson-Miller, also declared publicly that she was a republican and that she preferred an elected president. However, the PNP was ousted from power in the general election of 2016 without altering the constitution.

As soon as he took office, Andrew Holness, the prime minister who would succeed Simpson-Miller, reaffirmed his support for republicanism and announced that his government would introduce a bill to replace the Queen as head of state with "a non-executive president”.

As you can tell, Jamaica has had a long history of hoping to move forward with the island becoming a republic but those plans have continuously been thwarted, so we will just have to wait and see what happens in 2025.

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References & Sources For Will Jamaica Become A Republic?

  1. Jamaica (2022) Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jamaica#:~:text=Jamaica%20is%20a%20parliamentary%20democracy,the%20Governor%2DGeneral%20of%20Jamaica (Accessed: October 14, 2022).

  2. Republic (no date) Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. Available at: https://www.britannica.com/topic/republic-government (Accessed: October 14, 2022).

  3. Republicanism in Jamaica (2022) Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation. Available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republicanism_in_Jamaica#:~:text=In%20June%202022%2C%20the%20Jamaican,parliament%20along%20with%20a%20referendum (Accessed: October 14, 2022).

  4. Take online courses. earn college credit. Research Schools, Degrees & Careers (no date) Study.com | Take Online Courses. Earn College Credit. Research Schools, Degrees & Careers. Available at: https://study.com/learn/lesson/republican-government-function.html (Accessed: October 14, 2022).

Will Jamaica Become A Republic? | Written: October 14, 2022

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