With 63 parliamentary seats up for grabs, the JLP is expected to win 33 seats to the PNP’s 30.
Pundits had anticipated a tight contest between the country’s two main political parties.
The PNP, led by outgoing Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, was seeking a second consecutive term. Boasting its achievement of passing 10 IMF tests under the economic reform programme, the party had urged Jamaicans to 'stay the course' and not be swayed by "empty promises" being made by the Andrew Holness-led JLP.
The most publicised 'promise' of them all was the JLP’s vow to remove personal income tax for everyone who earns a basic salary of $1.5 million or less per year. It was part of a 10-Point Plan for Growth and Job Creation presented by Holness and the JLP earlier this month.
Critics, including Finance Minister and PNP campaign director Dr Peter Phillips, blasted the plan as “unworkable”. But the promise resonated with many Jamaicans, who have been facing economic hardship under the very austere IMF programme.
“The PNP are arrogant and the Jamaican people have spoken,” declared senior JLP member, Delroy Chuck amid jubilant supporters at the party headquarters at Belmont Road, Kingston on Thursday.
Holness led Jamaica for just over two months before his party lost 2011 elections by a 2-1 margin.
Simpson Miller became Jamaica's first female leader during a year-and-a-half stint in office that ended in 2007 with a defeat to the then Bruce Golding-led JLP. She was returned as Prime Minister in 2011.