Portia Lucretia Simpson-Miller, ON, MP (born 12 December 1945) is a Jamaican politician who has been the seventh Prime Minister of Jamaica since 5 January 2012. Simpson-Miller, who leads the People's National Party, previously served as Prime Minister from 2006 to 2007; she was Leader of the Opposition from 2007 to 2012.
While serving as Prime Minister, Simpson-Miller also chose to hold the positions of Minister of Defence, Development, Information and Sports. She previously served as Minister of Labour, Social Security and Sport, Minister of Tourism and Sports and Minister of Local Government throughout the years. Simpson-Miller defeated Prime Minister Andrew Holness of the Jamaica Labour Party in the December 2011 general election.
Simpson-Miller was second 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 garnered 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 on 30 March 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 5 January 2012.
Simpson-Miller is a recipent of the Time 100 most influential Persons in the World. Simpson-Miller was named Person of the Year by The Gleaner and Observer in the Gleaner awards 2011. Simpson-Miller is also member of the Council of Women World Leaders, an international network of current and former female presidents and prime ministers.
On 3 September 2007 her party narrowly lost the general election, retaining 27 seats against the rival Jamaican Labour Party's 33 seats. This margin was revised to 32–28 after recounts and an election petition decision concerning the eligibility of a government MP who had dual citizenship.
Simpson-Miller's loss can in part be attributed to a well planned and executed campaign by the JLP. A part of their campaign strategy was a media blitz that claimed to highlight 18 years of neglect under the PNP and the incompetence of Simpson-Miller as a leader. One ad highlighted the deplorable conditions in Simpson-Miller’s own constituency of South West St. Andrew, while others were created from controversial interviews and still others discussed issues surrounding her competence as a leader.
Simpson-Miller initially refused to concede defeat, alleging voting irregularities and the possibility that recounts would change the final result. The Organization of American States issued a statement declaring the election free and fair. "I believe this election can stand international scrutiny," said OAS assistant secretary-general Albert Ramdin, who led a team of international observers who monitored the election. She conceded defeat on 5 September. On 11 September, Simpson Miller was succeeded as Prime Minister by JLP leader Bruce Golding. In 2011 Bruce Golding had resigned giving way for Andrew Holness to become the 9th Prime Minister of Jamaica.
Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller and the Leader of the Opposition Andrew Holness lead in their teams for the start of the 2012 Parliament session with their senior Members of Parliament following.
On 5 December 2011, rival JLP Prime Minister Andrew Holness asked the Governor-General, Sir Patrick Allen, to dissolve Parliament, and call for new elections despite the fact that elections were not constitutionally necessary until September 2012. The date of the early election was set as 29 December 2011, and major local media outlets viewed the election as "too close to call", though as Simpson-Miller campaigned in key constituencies the gap widened to favour the PNP. Days before the election, Simpson-Miller came out fully in favor of LGBT rights in a televised debate, sparking an eleventh-hour controversy ahead of the vote.
In early vote counting on 29 December, it was apparent that the PNP was winning a large number of swing constituencies. By evening, the Jamaica Observer had declared 41 of 63 constituencies for the PNP. The election results were officially declared by the Electoral Office of Jamaica, and on the request of the Governor General Simpson-Miller formed the new Jamaican government in Her Majesty's name for a second non-consecutive term as Jamaica's Prime Minister. She became the second individual to have served non-consecutive terms, the first having been Michael Manley.
Simpson-Miller has endorsed replacing the position of the monarchy with an elected head of state. She is the second head of government to openly endorse republicanism after Percival Patterson. Simpson-Miller has reportedly pledged to transform Jamaica into a republic as part of the fiftieth anniversary of the island's independence. She believes Jamaica should become a republic while keeping with the mandate of independence.
After ambivalence during her first term in office, Simpson-Miller became the first head of government in Jamaican history to formally endorse civil rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens during an election campaign. Simpson-Miller noted during an election debate that she "has no problem giving certain positions of authority to a homosexual as long as they show the necessary level of competence for the post." She expressed that equality within a nation for all people is of utmost importance.
Simpson-Miller is married to Errald Miller, formerly CEO of Cable & Wireless Jamaica Ltd. On 29 May 2006 she was vested with the Jamaican Order of the Nation, giving her (and her husband) the title "The Most Honourable".
- The Hon. Mrs. Portia Simpson-Miller, Minister of Local Government, Community Development & Sport, Profiles of Cabinet Ministers, Jamaica Information Service
- "Jamaica to get first woman leader". BBC News. 26 February 2006. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4752192.stm. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
- Jamaica's First Female Prime Minister, retrieved on 28 May 2007.
- "The 100 Most Influential People In The World". Time. 18 April 2012. http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2111975_2111976_2111996,00.html.
- Chaplin, Ken. "Portia Simpson Miller: Person of the Year", Jamaica Observer, 3 January 2012.
- About-Jamaica. "About Jamaica". About Jamaica. http://www.about-jamaica.com. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
- JLP TV Ads – Majesty Gardens on YouTube
- JLP TV Ads – We Found Money – Portia on YouTube
- JLP TV Ad – Dont Draw Mi Tongue on YouTube
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- Associated Press (5 September 2007). "World News: Jamaica's prime minister concedes defeat". Toronto Star. http://www.thestar.com/News/World/article/253363. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
- Edmond Campbell, "Bruce takes charge – Golding sworn in as Jamaica's eighth Prime Minister", Jamaica Gleaner, 12 September 2007.
- Gray, Stephen (29 December 2011). "Jamaican elections end tonight as minister says gays "threatened his life"". Pink News. http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2011/12/29/jamaican-elections-end-tonight-as-minister-says-gays-threatened-his-life/. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
- GG Gets Results
- "Jamaica plans to become a republic". Sky News Australia. 31 December 2011. http://www.skynews.com.au/world/article.aspx?id=702384&vId=. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
- "Jamaica to break links with Queen, says Prime Minister Simpson Miller". BBC News. 6 January 2012. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-16449969.
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