The eighth General Parliamentary Elections were held in Jamaica on 15 December 1976 for all 60 seats in the House of Representatives after Parliament had been prematurely dissolved on 23 November 1976. The number of seats increased from 43 prior to the election.
The 60 members of the House of Representatives are elected in single-member constituencies by first-past-the-post voting. There is no fixed election date in effect in Jamaica at this time; hence, the choice of election date is the prerogative of the Prime Minister.
The Representation of the People Act permits the candidacy of voters above the age of 21. Any Commonwealth citizen residing in Jamaica can vote in the election if they are older than 18 years. To be included on the ballot, a nomination must include the signatures of at least ten eligible voters from the same constituency. The nomination form must then be submitted during a four-hour period on nomination day.
The December polling date was set on 21 November 1976. Nomination day was fixed for November 29. The elections were held under a state of emergency which had been declared in June 1976 in an effort to curb a wave of violence which had swept the country.
Political Parties & Candidates
The only opposition to the ruling People's National Party (PNP) came from the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP), led by Edward Seaga. A total of 120 candidates contested the election with the PNP and JLP each presenting a full slate of 60 candidates.
During the troubled three-week campaign, Prime Minister Michael Manley pledged to keep Jamaica's security situation under strict control and advocated his policy of " democratic socialism " and a new international economic order which would be more beneficial to Third World countries. The somewhat more conservative JLP had a free-enterprise platform and, among other things, attacked the Prime Minister's close ties with Cuba.
The PNP won in a landslide, gaining 47 seats in the newly-enlarged House. Prime Minister Manley announced his new Cabinet on 4 January 1977.
Voter turnout was 85.21%.