New Book: Elections, Violence and the Democratic Process in Jamaica

Amanda Sives’ Elections, Violence and the Democratic Process in Jamaica, 1944-2007 (2010) provides insight to the Jamaican political culture.

Since the achievement of adult suffrage in 1944, Jamaican democracy has remained resilient. Fifteen general elections have been held; the results have been accepted by the contending parties and the democratic process has survived. Within the wider Latin American and Caribbean region, Jamaica has been a stable, functioning democracy, but it has faced a number of significant challenges. In this book, Amanda Sives examines one of those key difficulties: the relationship between politics and violence in the former British colony involving supporters of the two main rival political parties, the Jamaican Labour Party and the People’s National Party. Unlike other countries within the region, it has occurred within the confines of the democratic process and sought to influence the electoral outcome rather than overthrow the state. Tracing the rise and decline of partisan political violence, through an examination of elections since 1944, Sives argues that these dynamics can only be understood within a specific historical framework.

Election, Violence and the Democratic Process in Jamaica posits that partisan political violence is not simply a fight for scarce benefits but needs to be understood as part of political identity formation and political culture. Sives concludes that while the reformed electoral process provides an example of best practice for other developing countries, until the peculiar Jamaican problem of party-controlled garrisons is addressed, the democratic process will remain flawed.

Amanda Sives [MA, MPA (Liverpool), PhD (Bradford)] is a lecturer in Politics at the University of Liverpool. Her main research expertise lies in the politics of the Caribbean with a particular emphasis on Jamaica. Many of Dr. Sives’ research projects have focused on election observation, political violence and migration. She has held posts in the University of Nottingham, the Commonwealth Policy Studies Unit, and the Institute of Commonwealth Studies. She is presently a visiting fellow at the Royal Commonwealth Society.

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