Percival James Patterson was appointed Jamaican prime minister in 1992 after his mentor, socialist Prime Minister Michael Manley, retired due to poor health.
The following year, Prime Minister Patterson won the job outright in general elections, and he was re-elected in 1997.
His apparent victory this week would make him the first Jamaican prime minister elected to three consecutive terms. Mr. Patterson says this will be his final term in office.
The prime minister's supporters praise what they say is his non-confrontational style. Critics consider his management style to be a weakness and accuse the 67-year-old politician of being too soft on corruption.
Mr. Patterson has pursued free market reforms. Jamaica's economy has grown slightly during his administration.
He has struggled to boost the island's tourist industry, which has suffered because of rising crime and the September 11th attacks last year in the United States.
Mr. Patterson has pledged to resume hangings to curb Jamaica's spiraling murder rate. He also promises to continue working with international officials to stem the illegal drug trade.
The son of a farmer who rose to prominence as a lawyer, Mr. Patterson was educated at the University of the West Indies in Jamaica. He also attended the London School of Economics.
Mr. Patterson won a seat in Jamaica's parliament in 1970. He also has held several ministerial positions.