Parties registered - PNP and JLP get provisional certificate
The registration of Jamaica's two major political parties has been hailed by selected commissioner of the Electoral Commission of Jamaica (ECJ), Justice Karl Harrison, as a significant milestone for the country's democracy and political history.
The People's National Party (PNP), which is approaching its 80th year since its establishment, and the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), which will celebrate its 75th anniversary this year, both received their provisional certificates of registration yesterday at the official launch of political parties registration at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston.
Harrison told the gathering of senior political figures and past and current members of the ECJ that the registration of both political parties represented a first, not only in Jamaica, but the English-speaking Caribbean.
ECJ Chairman Dorothy Pine McLarty argued that the regulations and law governing party registration would strengthen the trust in the electoral process. She said it was important that all stakeholders embrace and demand the enforcement of the provisions that were vital to the country's democracy.
The Political Registration Act was passed in 2014 and the regulations approved in 2017.
MUST LEAD FROM THE FRONT
Prime Minister Andrew Holness said the country now has a framework for the registration of political parties, while keeping an accurate and up-to-date record on each political party.
"Political parties must lead from the front and set our houses in order. We must ensure that the mask of anonymity is removed, leading to greater accountability and transparency," said Holness.
"This piece of legislation now formalises political parties in our democracy. Political parties will now have to place on record their financing and details of records, thereby lifting the veil, because there is a sense that political parties are unregulated private fraternities."
Registrar of political parties, Llofraun Thompson, said the law makes it mandatory for all political parties to be registered with the ECJ in order to participate in national elections and referenda.
However, she noted that persons who were not aligned to political parties still have the opportunity to take part in elections as independent candidates.
Thompson also indicated that for the first time in Jamaica's political history, the ECJ has been granted autonomy to closely examine the sources of funding and governance practice of political parties.
"Registration will promote equal access among participants and promote transparency in the operations of political parties," she said, emphasising that it would level the playing field by allowing smaller and less-established political parties the means by which to qualify for, and access, state funding."