Age may be just a number, but it matters in politics. Many countries have minimum age qualifications for political positions. Interestingly the mother of modern democracy, the United Kingdom, has no minimal age qualifications, and William Pitt the Younger famously became Prime Minister at 24 in 1783. But a lot of places clearly agree that ‘young bud nuh know storm!’.


Like Britain, Jamaica has few restrictions. Anyone over 21 can be a candidate. Our youngest ever MP was Andrew Holness, who entered parliament at 25, and went on to become the youngest Prime Minister at 39. Even now at 48, Mr. Holness is quite young by world leader standards. Look at this list from 2017, when he was 45.

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The world’s average elected leader age is about 65. Opposition Leader Peter Phillips at 70 is younger than Trinidad PM Keith Rowley, and far younger than Mahathir bin Mohamed was when re-elected Malaysian PM at 93 in 2018.

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On the gender side, as of June 2019, 11 women were serving as Head of State and 12 as Head of Government, out of 193 countries. About 24% of all national parliamentarians were women, and 21% of government ministers.

In our most recent Parliament, we had 10 female MPs, with Shahine Robinson tragically passing in May. Six were JLP: Juliet Cuthbert-Flynn, Fayval Williams, Juliet Holness, Ann Marie Vaz, Melissa Dalrymple, Marlene Malahoo-Forte. Four were PNP: Angela Brown-Burke, Lisa Hanna, Natalie Neita-Headley, Denise Daley,

There were 6 MPs 45 years or younger: Lisa Hanna, Dwayne Vaz, Dayton Campbell of the PNP, and Floyd Green, Zavia Mayne and Arlando Terrelongue from the JLP. Ms. Hanna was the only ‘young’ female.                                                                     

Depending on voters’ choices, the upcoming election could well be a gender and generational re-alignment election. There are 30 females running, 18 for JLP and 12 for PNP.


A total of 38 candidates aged 45 or under are on the ballot, 20 for JLP and 18 for PNP. Of these, 14 are female: 9 JLP and 5 PNP. (This ‘young’ MP list is a bit of a guesstimate, as neither party seems quite sure how old all its candidates are. If there are any mistakes, blame them!)



Pollsters have predicted a cumulative 28% swing to the JLP. Yet polls are but snapshots in time, and the pollsters are out in the field again, and numbers may shift. At any rate, we ran some projections with a conservative 10% JLP shift, assuming movements are similar in all seats. So here is what our next Parliament might possibly look like in terms of gender and age representation.

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Again these are only speculative projections using a smaller swing than pollsters predict. But if actual results are anything like these, we could move from 11 female MPs to 17, 12 for the JLP and 5 for the PNP.  Our percentage of female legislators would then be 17 out of 63, or 27%: higher than the 24% world average.

We could go from 6 MPs 45 or under, to 15: 11 from JLP and 4 from PNP. Female 45 or under MPs would increase from 1 to 7, 5 from JLP and 2 from PNP.

They say never make predictions, especially about the future. But the numbers suggest there is quite a good chance that Jamaica will wake up on September 4, with its youngest and most gender equitable Parliament ever.

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