Have you ever thought about what the legislature does or who makes it up? Probably not, just like many other teens. However, it's important to know because these persons have a direct impact on your future, and in some cases, your grades.
To understand, you must first know some key concepts. Let's super simplify Jamaican politics.
Firstly, what kind of political system do we have?
In Jamaica, we operate under a constitutional monarchy. With this system, the Governor-General (who represents the Queen of England) is the head of state. This system allows the country to have three arms of the government: the Executive branch, the Legislature and the Judiciary.
The Executive branch is headed by the Prime Minister, and also includes the members of his Cabinet. The Legislature is the Parliament, and includes elected and appointed officials known as MPs and Senators respectively. The Judiciary is responsible for the legal systems.
What is the role of the Parliament?
The Parliament, also known as the Legislature, is mainly responsible for creating new laws and changing existing ones. Along with a number of other responsibilities, the Legislature is also responsible for monitoring and controlling the Government's financial resources.
Who makes up the Parliament?
Parliament is made up of two bodies. They are the Senate and the House of Representatives
What do they do?
The Senate (also known as the Upper House) is a nominated body. This means that they aren't democratically elected, however, appointed by the Governor General upon advice of the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition. The Prime Minister recommends 13 persons while the Leader of the Opposition recommends eight. Therefore in total there are 21 Senators. The Senate's main role is to review bills that were passed by the House of Representatives (lower house). The Senate may also initiate bills, however, not money ones. The current President of the Senate is Senator the Hon. Tom Tavares-Finson.
The main role of the House of Representatives is usually to exercise control over the Government's financial resources. The House of Representatives is usually the initiator of bills and other pieces of legislation. These representatives are elected by majority vote in some 63 constituencies. A constituency is an area with persons who elects a representative. The political party with the most representation in the House of Representatives is the Government and the other side the Opposition. The current Speaker of the House of Representatives is the Hon. Pearnel Charles.
Currently, the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) has more representation than the People's National Party (PNP). That's why as leader of the JLP, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness (Most Hon. BroGad) is the Prime Minister.
Therefore, the House of Representatives are the persons elected. By electing them, you're deciding whether or not you also want them to be in charge of the government, more specifically, the executive branch. The Senate is appointed by both parties, thirteen and eight respectively in favour of the ruling party.
How do these people have an impact on your future? It's simple, they make the laws and policies governing all the sectors in the country. These laws can influence the employment rate, the education level of individuals, tax rate and vast number of other factors in our lives.
It's imperative, that when you know them, you hold them accountable. Additionally, when given the opportunity to vote, do so. Even if you're not yet eligible, have conversations with persons who are. Ensure that they're aware that their decision will either advance or hinder your future prosperity and progress. No pressure.
DECIDE WHO YOU WANT TO BE MAKING DECISIONS ON YOUR BEHALF.
For more information about the legislature such as finding out who your MP is or getting to know the Senators, visit jis.gov.jm.