Portia Simpson-Miller

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Portia Simpson-Miller
Portia Miller Shoot.Jpeg
7th Prime Minister of Jamaica
In office
5 January 2012 – 3 March 2016
MonarchElizabeth II
Governor-GeneralPatrick Allen
Preceded byAndrew Holness
Succeeded byAndrew Holness
In office
30 March 2006 – 11 September 2007
MonarchElizabeth II
Governor-GeneralKenneth Hall
Preceded byP. J. Patterson
Succeeded byBruce Golding
Leader of the Opposition
In office
3 March 2016 – 2 April 2017
Prime MinisterAndrew Holness
Preceded byAndrew Holness
Succeeded byPeter Phillips
In office
11 September 2007 – 5 January 2012
Prime MinisterBruce Golding
Andrew Holness
Preceded byBruce Golding
Succeeded byAndrew Holness
President of the People's National Party
In office
30 March 2005 – 26 March 2017
Preceded byP. J. Patterson
Succeeded byPeter Phillips
Personal details
Portia Lucretia Simpson

(1945-12-12) 12 December 1945 (age 76)
Wood Hall, Colony of Jamaica
Political partyPeople's National Party
Errald Miller
(m. 1998)
Alma materUnion Institute and University

Portia Lucretia Simpson-Miller ON (born 12 December 1945) is a Jamaican politician.[1] She served as Prime Minister of Jamaica from March 2006 to September 2007 and again from 5 January 2012 to 3 March 2016.[2] She was the leader of the People's National Party from 2005 to 2017 and the Leader of the Opposition twice, from 2007 to 2012 and from 2016 to 2017.

While serving as Prime Minister, Simpson-Miller retained the positions of Minister of Defence, Development, Information and Sports. She has also served as Minister of Labour, Social Security and Sport, Minister of Tourism and Sports and Minister of Local Government throughout her political career.[3] Following her election win in December 2011, when her party defeated the Jamaica Labour Party, she became the second individual since independence to have served non-consecutive terms as prime minister, the first having been Michael Manley.[4] The People's National Party under her leadership lost the 25 February 2016 general election by only one seat to the Andrew Holness-led Jamaica Labour Party.[5] One political commentator described the poll as "the closest election Jamaica has ever had".[6] Following this defeat, Simpson-Miller stepped down in 2017.[7]

Simpson-Miller was ranked by Time as one if the 100 most influential people in the world in 2012.[8] In 2011, she was named Person of the Year by The Gleaner and Observer.[9]

Political career[edit]

Simpson-Miller was elected in 1976 to the Parliament of Jamaica, to represent 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.[10]

She served as 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, then security minister Dr. Peter Phillips, took 1,538 votes.[11] 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 than that of the previous election.

Prime minister[edit]

Simpson-Miller replaced Patterson as prime minister on 30 March 2006, becoming the first female head of government of the nation[12] and the third in the Anglophone Caribbean, following Eugenia Charles of Dominica and Janet Jagan of Guyana. In organising the cabinet following her swearing-in, she assumed the portfolio of defence minister.

2007 elections[edit]

On 3 September 2007, Simpson-Miller's party narrowly lost the general election, retaining 27 seats against the Jamaica 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.[13] This election ended 18 years of PNP rule, and Bruce Golding became the new prime minister.[14]

The 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 advertisement highlighted the deplorable conditions in Simpson-Miller's own constituency of South West St. Andrew[15] while others were created from controversial interviews[16] and still others discussed issues surrounding her competence as a leader.[17]

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.[18] She conceded defeat on 5 September.[19] On 11 September, Simpson Miller was succeeded as prime minister by JLP leader Bruce Golding. In 2011, Golding resigned, making way for Andrew Holness to become the 9th Prime Minister of Jamaica.[20]

2011 election[edit]

Portia Simpson-Miller with P. J. Patterson and Wykeham McNeill in 2011

On 5 December 2011, Holness asked the Governor-General, Sir Patrick Allen, to dissolve parliament and call an election, despite the fact that elections were not constitutionally necessary until September 2012. The date of the 2011 election was set as 29 December and major local media outlets viewed the election as "too close to call". However, as Simpson-Miller campaigned in key constituencies, the gap widened to favour the PNP. Days before the election, Simpson-Miller came out fully in favour of LGBT rights in a televised debate, sparking an eleventh-hour controversy ahead of the vote.[21]

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.[22] The election results were officially declared by the Electoral Office on 5 January and, upon the request of the Governor General, Simpson-Miller formed the new Jamaican government.[23]

In the 2011 Jamaican general election, the number of seats had been increased to 63, and the PNP swept to power with a landslide 42 seats to the JLP's 21. The voter turnout was 53.17%.[24]

2016 elections[edit]

In the 2016 Jamaican general election on 25 February, Simpson-Miller lost to Andrew Holness by a narrow margin that resulted in a recount, which granted the PNP an additional seat, resulting in a one-seat loss; the PNP won 31 seats to the JLP's 32.[5] As a result, Simpson-Miller became Opposition Leader for a second time. The voter turnout dipped below 50% for the first time, registering just 48.37%.[25]

Following calls from within her own party for her to step down as party leader, Simpson-Miller announced she would not seek re-election on 4 December 2016.[26] She was replaced by Peter Phillips, the Shadow Minister of Finance and former rival, on 26 March 2017. She stepped down as an MP in June 2017.[7]

Political positions[edit]

Simpson-Miller supports Jamaican republicanism, and has endorsed replacing the Jamaican monarchy with an elected president.[27] Simpson-Miller has reportedly pledged to transform Jamaica into a republic as part of the 50th anniversary of the island's independence.[28] Simpson-Miller has occasionally been labeled as a populist.

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.[21] 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."[29] She expressed that equality within a nation for all people is of utmost importance. During her premiership, Simpson-Miller received some scrutiny from foreign LGBT organisations and commentators following the murder of Dwayne Jones for what they saw as lack of action by her government against anti-homosexual violence despite her pledge to improve conditions for LGBT Jamaicans.[30][31]

Personal life[edit]

In 1998, Simpson married Errald Miller, a business executive and former 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".[32]

Simpson-Miller is also known as "Sista P" or "Mama P".[33]


Simpson-Miller holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Public Administration, and also Certificates in Public Relations and Advanced Management from the Union Institute & University of Cincinnati, Ohio. She also completed the Executive Programme for Leaders in Development at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Prime Minister Simpson Miller was awarded the Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by the Union Institute and an honorary doctorate in public service from the Northern Caribbean University.


Simpson-Miller is a member of the Council of Women World Leaders, an international network of current and former female presidents and prime ministers.[34]

Simpson-Miller, in 2013, was elected Vice-President of Socialist International following a conference in Cape Town, South Africa.[35]

See also[edit]

  • Cabinet of Jamaica
  • Women in the House of Representatives of Jamaica
  • Skard, Torild (2014) Portia Simpson-Miller, Women of Power - Half a century of female presidents and prime ministers worldwide Bristol: Policy Press. ISBN 978-1-44731-578-0.


  1. ^ "PM Portia Simpson Miller turns 67 today". Jamaica Observer. 12 December 2012. Retrieved 27 July 2020.
  2. ^ "Thousands gather for Simpson Miller's Swearing-in". Jamaica-gleaner.com. 5 January 2012. Retrieved 3 February 2013.
  3. ^ [1] Archived 9 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ "go-jamaica.com". go-jamaica.com. 5 January 2012. Retrieved 3 February 2013.
  5. ^ a b "Final Counting of Ballots for General Election 2016 – Jamaica Information Service". jis.gov.jm. Retrieved 23 June 2022.
  6. ^ "PM, JLP, political ombudsman remind J'cans that recount is normal process - News". The Jamaica Observer. Retrieved 29 February 2016.
  7. ^ a b "Portia's journey - I endured it all, says retiring MP". jamaica-gleaner.com. 28 June 2017. Retrieved 23 June 2022.
  8. ^ a b "The 100 Most Influential People in the World". Time. 18 April 2012. Archived from the original on 19 April 2012.
  9. ^ a b Chaplin, Ken. "Portia Simpson Miller: Person of the Year", Jamaica Observer, 3 January 2012.
  10. ^ The Hon. Mrs. Portia Simpson-Miller, Minister of Local Government, Community Development & Sport Archived 11 January 2012 at the Wayback Machine, Profiles of Cabinet Ministers, Jamaica Information Service
  11. ^ "Jamaica to get first woman leader". BBC News. 26 February 2006. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
  12. ^ Jamaica's First Female Prime Minister, Retrieved 28 May 2007.
  13. ^ Caribbean Elections: Jamaican Election Centre, "Jamaican general election results 3 September 2007" http://www.caribbeanelections.com/jm/elections/jm_results_2007.asp Retrieved 24 December 2020.
  14. ^ "JAMAICA: Opposition end 18 years of PNP government". dailybrief.oxan.com. Retrieved 23 June 2022.
  15. ^ JLP TV Ads – Majesty Gardens on YouTube
  16. ^ JLP TV Ads – We Found Money – Portia on YouTube
  17. ^ JLP TV Ad – Dont Draw Mi Tongue on YouTube
  18. ^ "Latest news from around the world | the Guardian". TheGuardian.com. Retrieved 5 September 2007.[dead link]
  19. ^ "World News: Jamaica's prime minister concedes defeat". Toronto Star. Associated Press. 5 September 2007. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
  20. ^ Edmond Campbell, "Bruce takes charge – Golding sworn in as Jamaica's eighth Prime Minister" Archived 14 April 2008 at the Wayback Machine, Jamaica Gleaner, 12 September 2007.
  21. ^ a b Gray, Stephen (29 December 2011). "Jamaican elections end tonight as minister says gays "threatened his life"". Pink News. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
  22. ^ "General Elections 2011 Results". Election.jamaicaobserver.com. Retrieved 30 September 2015.
  23. ^ "Elections Coverage & Updates". Jamaica Observer. 4 January 2012. Archived from the original on 1 October 2015. Retrieved 30 September 2015.
  24. ^ Caribbean Elections: Jamaican Election Centre, "Jamaican general election results 29 December 2011" http://www.caribbeanelections.com/jm/elections/jm_results_2011.asp Retrieved 24 December 2020.
  25. ^ Caribbean Elections: Jamaican Election Centre, "Jamaican general election results 25 February 2016" http://www.caribbeanelections.com/jm/elections/jm_results_2016.asp Retrieved 24 December 2020.
  26. ^ "Jamaica Observer Limited".
  27. ^ "Jamaica will become a republic, new Prime Minister vows". The Guardian Newspaper. 6 January 2012. Retrieved 14 August 2014.
  28. ^ "Portia: I love the Queen, but - News - Latest News". Jamaica Gleaner. 5 January 2012. Retrieved 3 February 2013.
  29. ^ "Pro-Gay Simpson Miller Sworn in as Jamaican Prime Minister - Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller". Zimbio. 6 January 2012. Archived from the original on 10 February 2013. Retrieved 3 February 2013.
  30. ^ Roberts, Scott (22 August 2013). "London vigil for murdered Jamaican trans teenager". PinkNews. Archived from the original on 5 July 2015. Retrieved 23 August 2013.
  31. ^ Johnson, Jovan (28 August 2013). "British Gay Rights Group Protests Dwayne Jones' Killing". The Gleaner. Archived from the original on 5 July 2015. Retrieved 11 October 2013.
  32. ^ [2] Archived 12 March 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  33. ^ "We Elected "Sista 'P' "! Portia Simpson Miller is now Jamaica's first Elected Female Prime Minister". Archived from the original on 10 January 2012. Retrieved 21 August 2013.
  34. ^ About-Jamaica. "About Jamaica". About Jamaica. Retrieved 31 December 2011.
  35. ^ "Portia elected VP of Socialist International - News - Jamaica Observer Mobile". M.jamaicaobserver.com. 21 September 2012. Archived from the original on 1 October 2015. Retrieved 30 September 2015.

External links[edit]

Party political offices
Preceded by Leader of the People's National Party
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Prime Minister of Jamaica
Succeeded by
Preceded by Leader of the Opposition
Succeeded by
Preceded by Prime Minister of Jamaica
Leader of the Opposition
Succeeded by