The Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) is one of the two major political parties in Jamaica, the other being the People’s National Party (PNP). While its name might suggest that it is a social-democratic party, the JLP is actually a conservative party. However, it has longstanding ties to the Jamaican labor movement.
It is the current governing party, having won 32 of the 63 Parliamentary seats in the lower house of Parliament in the 2016 general elections.
The JLP gained another seat in the November 2017 St Mary South East By-Election, increasing its majority to 33 to the PNP’s 30, and unsurprisingly, one of our fellow Lebanese has managed to excel even here.
Shahine Robinson Robinson is of Lebanese descent. She was born and raised in Claremont, Saint Ann Parish where her parents Peter and Kathleen and grandparents all lived.
She graduated from the Immaculate Conception High School in Jamaica and went on to Miami Dade College where she earned an associate degree in marketing and a diploma in public relations.
She has two sisters and two brothers, among them younger brother Peter Fakhourie, who is also a JLP political candidate. She is married to Tyrone Robinson, who also serves as her campaign manager.
Before entering politics, Robinson worked in the banking and tourism sectors. She had been involved at the margins of politics for almost two decades as a JLP supporter and was tapped by then-Leader of the Opposition Edward Seaga to do more work during Michael Belnavis’ leave of absence.
She was first elected to Parliament after the resignation of People’s National Party MP Danny Melville in 2001, defeating the PNP’s Carol Jackson in the resulting by-election. She naturalized as a U.S. citizen in 2006 while sitting in Parliament.
However, the following year, she handed back her U.S. passport at an Immigration and Naturalization Service office in Key Biscayne, Florida, in advance of the 2007 Jamaican general election, stating that she believed this constituted renunciation of U.S. citizenship. She went on to defeat PNP candidate Oswest Senior-Smith in that election by 2,022 votes.
After the 2007 election, former legislator Manley Bowen of the PNP, who was registered as a voter in Robinson’s constituency, sought a declaration from the Supreme Court that she was not qualified to be elected due to her alleged dual citizenship.
Robinson continued to hold her parliamentary seat until a court removed her from it in 2010 and ordered her to pay legal costs of J$15.3 million to Bowen. She went through with the formal renunciation procedure and obtained a Certificate of Loss of Nationality in December 2010.
She then won back her old seat in a by-election that month, defeating PNP challenger Devon Evans, and was sworn back in as an MP in January 2011. She currently serves as Jamaica’s Minister of Labour and Social Security.