Jamaican centre-left politician and lawyer; prime minister 1992–2006. Having lost his seat in the crushing defeat of the People's National Party (PNP) by the Jamaican Labour Party (JLP) in 1980, he oversaw the PNP's successful reorganization as a moderate centre-left force. Re-elected in 1989, he was chosen to succeed Michael Manley as prime minister by an overwhelming majority in 1992, despite having resigned his post of finance minister amidst financial scandal the previous year. He pursued a moderate, free-market economic strategy and achieved an increased majority for the PNP in 1993, and an unprecedented third consecutive term in 1997.
Patterson had held various ministerial portfolios under Manley, including industry and commerce 1972–76, foreign affairs 1976–80, and development, planning, and production 1989–92. In 1991 he was appointed deputy prime minister and minister for finance and planning. He had taken over the prime ministerial portfolio for several periods during 1990 when Manley had been unwell and was widely seen as his natural successor. However, in 1991 there were allegations that taxes amounting to some US$30 million, owed to the Jamaican government by the international oil company Shell, had been waived, and Patterson, as finance minister, and the mining and energy minister, Horace Clarke, resigned. Despite this, when ill-health forced Manley to retire in March 1992, the PNP elected Patterson to succeed him by almost a 3–1 majority, automatically making him prime minister. In March 1993 he secured his own popular mandate by calling a snap general election and securing a landslide victory.
Patterson was born in Kingston, and studied English literature at the University of the West Indies and law at London University, later being admitted to the Jamaican bar. He joined the moderately socialist PNP in 1958, becoming its its vice-president in 1969. He was appointed to the Jamaican senate in 1967 and was first elected to its house of representatives in 1970.