Editorial for December 03: The future of political parties

Judging by
the results of last week’s caycompass.com online poll, residents of the Cayman
Islands aren’t too enthused about who will take Kurt Tibbetts’ place as the
next leader of the People’s Progressive Movement.

Although the
apathy could be a reflection of the potential candidates, based on some of the
comments made on the poll, it seems more likely a reflection of a
dissatisfaction with Cayman’s political party system.

residents fail to see any benefits of the party system for the Cayman Islands.
Instead, they see the division the two-party system creates, not only in the
Legislative Assembly, but in the wider community.

When he
resigned, Mr. Tibbetts spoke about the importance of having a political party
system.  Theoretically there are benefits, such as having a government
that espouses a common political ideology.

Although the
PPM has come closest to establishing a unified ideology, the truth is even that
unity was a facade created more for political expedience than by the
convictions of candidates.  Those who doubt this need only look at former
Cabinet Minister Charles Clifford’s acrimonious departure from the party this
year or some of the inconsistencies between unified word and personal deed of
the PPM’s current and former elected members.

The unified
ideology situation with the United Democratic Party is even worse and Premier
McKeeva Bush has publicly admitted his own Cabinet resists what he, as premier,
has announced as public policy.

Mr. Tibbetts
said another reason why it is important to have political parties is so voters
would know who their next government would be.  But in the past, parties
haven’t told the public which members would make up the Cabinet, so Mr.
Tibbetts’ assertion is only partially true. Furthermore, Cayman has ended up
with some very effective coalition governments in the past – some more
effective than any of the party governments to date – so it is debatable as to
how important knowing potential members of government really is.

Ultimately, if our poll is
any indication, political party members might find a big surprise come May 2013
on the issue of the importance of political parties, at least when it comes to
the PPM and UDP.

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