Although he expressed a keen interest in working with the Cayman Islands’ two current independent political office-holders, Opposition Leader Alden McLaughlin said last week that his People’s Progressive Movement party would not look to form a PPM-independent candidate coalition before the May 2013 general elections.
In other words, the opposition party is looking to win the upcoming vote outright; regardless of what any independent candidates do.
“I am putting out of my mind any consideration of a [pre-election] coalition,” Mr. McLaughlin said during an interview Thursday afternoon at his Prospect home. “We have a strong team of candidates.”
If neither the PPM nor the ruling United Democratic Party secures a majority of seats in the next election, some sort of coalition would likely have to be formed. However, the opposition leader said party members would cross that bridge if and when they come to it.
Mr. McLaughlin said Thursday that the PPM had confirmed 12 candidates ahead of next year’s general election, 10 of whom he could name publicly including current office-holders. He said the party could run as many as 15 candidates, including up to four in the district of West Bay.
“I think two seats are vulnerable there,” he said of the UDP stronghold, where the PPM did not even field any candidates in the 2009 elections.
How many candidates the opposition party runs next year will depend, in part, upon what can be agreed with independent members of the Legislative Assembly Ezzard Miller, who represents North Side, and Arden McLean, who represents East End. Mr. McLean resigned from the PPM earlier this year. Mr. Miller was elected in 2009 as the LA’s only independent member.
“As far as East End and North Side [are] concerned, what we do there depends on whether we can reach an agreement with Ezzard and Arden,” Mr. McLaughlin said.
What Mr. McLaughlin said “agreement” in this context meant was Messrs. Miller and McLean would agree to team up with a PPM-led government administration – with himself as the premier – if the party was successful in the May elections.
Mr. McLaughlin said he would be receptive to discussions regarding whether Mr. Miller or Mr. McLean – or both – could serve in ministerial positions within that administration.
“There is the possibility,” he said. “But that’s as far as I’d like to go with it right now.”
The opposition leader also noted that it was within the realm of possibility for the PPM to run its own candidates against the North Side and East End incumbents. However, he said he respected the independent candidates’ positions and was awaiting the outcome of further discussions on the matter before deciding what to do.
Under the 2009 Constitution Order, the number of representatives within the Legislative Assembly will increase from 15 to 18 by the next election and the number of government ministers will increase from five to seven. However, there have already been some quiet rumblings among the ruling UDP about making that change. Mr. Miller has said publicly that going to 18 MLAs, and particularly adding two new ministerial positions in Cabinet, may be too expensive for the territory right now.
The Legislative Assembly has not yet voted to accept the report of the 2010 Electoral Boundary Commission, which proposed that two new MLA positions be added in George Town and one new seat be added in Bodden Town.
To fill up the new seats, Mr. McLaughlin said there are already five confirmed PPM candidates in George Town district; four of whom he named as himself, MLA Kurt Tibbetts, former MLA Lucille Seymour and former Cayman 27 reporter Kenneth Bryan. A fifth candidate whom Mr. McLaughlin said he could not name yet has assented to run with the PPM. If more than six candidates signed up to run with the party, the PPM would hold an internal candidate selection to choose those members.
In Bodden Town, Mr. McLaughlin said current MLA Anthony Eden and former MLA Osbourne Bodden had confirmed along with PPM members Wayne Panton and Al Suckoo, who would be new candidates.
In West Bay, Woody DaCosta, an independent political candidate in 2009, has agreed to run with the PPM, Mr. McLaughlin said. Other West Bay candidates could be forthcoming, but the opposition leader did not specify any other individuals who might run there.
In Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, MLA Moses Kirkconnell intends to seek another term. Mr. McLaughlin said the party had no other plans to run a second candidate in the Sister Islands.