The twelth General Parliamentary Elections were held in Jamaica on 30 March 1993 for all 60 seats in the House of Representatives. Elections were held 11 months before they were constitutionally due.
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.
Incumbent Prime Minister Percival Patterson announced on 9 March 1993 that early general elections would be held on 30 March. He had succeeded Prime Minister Michael Manley in 1992 when the latter had resigned for health reasons.
Political Parties & Candidates
The two main contenders were Patterson’s social-democratic People’s National Party (PNP) and former Prime Minister Edward Seaga’s conservative Jamaica Labour Party (JLP). A total of 127 candidates contested the election with the PNP and JLP each presenting a full slate of 60 candidates. There were also seven independents.
The three-week campaign was marred by violence, which left at least 10 people including an election supervisor, dead. The PNP government had just granted significant salary increases to teachers and the police. It advocated free-market policies and stated its intention to privatize State-owned corporations and deregulate the foreign exchange market. In addition, it promised to pay attention to the problems of the public transport sector. As for the JLP, it accused Mr. Patterson of racist overtones in his campaign and denounced the scandals that had plagued the PNP’s management of the country.
Polling was fraught with violent incidents in spite of an undertaking by candidates of both parties to restrain their supporters. Voting operations had to be suspended in at least one constituency (Kingston, the capital) as a result of this violence.
On election day, the PNP won a landslide victory (the largest in Jamaica’s history of free elections), with a total of 51 seats. Mr. Seaga denounced the results, alleging fraud and irregularities and announced that the JLP would boycott Parliament until an enquiry was conducted into these allegations and reforms carried out in the security services and electoral sector.
Prime Minister Patterson subsequently formed a new 16-member Cabinet, retaining most of the previous Ministers.
Voter turnout was 67.35%.