Portia Simpson-Miller, elected Prime Minister of Jamaica
2 January 2012 1,036 views No Comment
Portia Lucretia Simpson-Miller, ON, MP (born 12 December 1945) is the incoming Prime Minister of Jamaica, representing the People's National Party. She served a previous term in the office, from 30 March 2006 to 11 September 2007, as the first woman in that role, and defeated Andrew Holness of the Jamaica Labour Party in the December 2011 general election. Simpson-Miller is a member of the Council of Women World Leaders, an international network of current and former female presidents and prime ministers Simpson-Miller was born on 12 December 1945 in Wood Hall, St. Catherine Parish. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in public administration from Union Institute & University, a private college specialising in distance learning programs. The UIU later awarded her an honorary doctorate of humane letters. Simpson-Miller was first elected in 1976 to the Parliament of Jamaica, for the constituency of South West St. Andrew Parish, as a member of the People's National Party. The PNP boycotted the elections called in 1983. She was re-elected to the same seat in a later election, and served as Minister of Labour, Welfare and Sports from 1989 to 1993. She was Minister of Labour and Welfare from 1993 to 1995, Minister of Labour, Social Security and Sports from 1995 to February 2000, Minister of Tourism and Sports from February 2000 to October 2002, and Minister of Local Government and Sport since October 2002. She was a vice president of the PNP from 1978 to 2006, when she became its president. In the PNP's internal vote to elect P. J. Patterson's successor, held on 26 February 2006, she received 1,775 votes, while her nearest rival, security minister Dr. Peter Phillips, took 1,538 votes. She was only able to garner approximately 47% of the delegates' vote, making her the first PNP president to be elected by less than half of eligible delegates. In July 2008, Simpson-Miller was challenged for the presidency of the PNP by Phillips. The election was held among the party's delegates on 20 September. She was re-elected as the head of the PNP for her second consecutive year, defeating him by an even wider margin that that of the previous election. She replaced outgoing Prime Minister Patterson in 2006, becoming the first female head of government of the nation and the third in the Anglophone Caribbean following Eugenia Charles of Dominica and Janet Jagan of Guyana. In appointing her first cabinet following her swearing-in, she also assumed the portfolio of defence minister. On 29 December 2011 she was elected as Prime Minister of Jamaica for a second time, assuming office on 1 January 2012.