The eleventh General Parliamentary Elections were held in Jamaica on 9 February 1989 for all 60 seats in the House of Representatives.
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.
This was the first election contested by the People's National Party since 1980, as they had boycotted the 1983 snap election. Prime Minister Edward Seaga announced the election date on January 15, 1989 at a rally in Kingston. He cited emergency conditions caused by Hurricane Gilbert in 1988 as the reason for extending the parliamentary term beyond its normal five-year mandate.
Political Parties & Candidates
The two main contenders were Michael Manley’s social-democratic People’s National Party (PNP) and Prime Minister Edward Seaga’s conservative Jamaica Labour Party (JLP). A total of 124 candidates contested the election with the PNP and JLP each presenting a full slate of 60 candidates. There were also seven independents.
The poll was principally fought on the basis of tight fiscal management with consequential austerity measures, against the contention of neglect to basic social needs in health, education, housing, etc. The outgoing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) Government, headed by Prime Minister Edward Seaga, campaigned on its performance while in power, arguing that it engineered economic recovery by good fiscal management, while the opposition socialist People's National Party (PNP) contended that the austerity measures were too severe and to the detriment of the people in putting "balancing the books" before basic "welfare of the people".
The JLP felt that it took "cash to care" whereas the PNP thought that a better mix was necessary. In August 1988, the two rivals had signed a pact agreeing to a code of behaviour for the campaign to avoid the violence of previous contests. This resulted in scattered incidents in comparison with the previous (1980) contested poll.
The polling results indicated that the electorate opted for less austerity and the rebuilding of the social services, as PNP, in a landslide, obtained 45 of the House's 60 Seats. As a result, PNP leader Michael Manley became Prime Minister on 13 February, thus recapturing the post he had held until 1980. The new PNP Cabinet was announced the same day.
At the end of March 1992, Michael Manley retired from active Political Life, and leadership of the PNP was won by P.J. Patterson.
Voter turnout was 78.38%.