A week and a half before the general election, Caymanian political hopefuls are considering the possibility that neither of the established political parties that have dominated the country’s political landscape for the past decade may have enough candidates elected to form a government on their own.
It is also possible that an all-United Democratic Party or all-People’s Progressive Movement government could indeed occur, with those groups fielding 12 and 15 candidates, respectively. All that would be needed to form a government would be a majority of 10 Legislative Assembly seats.
However, the two other political groupings that have formed – the Coalition for Cayman and the People’s National Alliance – have only seven and five endorsed candidates, respectively, leaving a total of 17 independent candidates who are not officially allied with any one group.
“We think there’s going to be a coalition government,” said Community Affairs Minister Dwayne Seymour last week. The question, if the election is held and no one group gains 10 seats in parliament, is who will make up the ruling group?
There are at least some answers available to that question, although not all possibilities have been determined at this stage.
At least two members of the interim government, Tourism Minister Cline Glidden and Health Minister Mark Scotland, said Thursday that they would not form a coalition with any government that might be led by former Premier McKeeva Bush. Mr. Bush, while facing charges for theft and corruption-related offences, won’t go to court until after the election and could still be chosen as the country’s leader after 22 May.
“I demonstrated my position on December 18 … when we asked the then-premier to step down,” Mr. Scotland said. “My position hasn’t changed from then.”
“I chose the Cayman Islands before my friendship and loyalty to McKeeva Bush,” Mr. Glidden said. “Since that time, nothing has happened to improve that situation, in fact, since then, he’s been charged.”
Mr. Seymour was not so firm in his position, stating he would revert to the Bodden Town voters if Mr. Bush were, theoretically, to ask him to form a coalition government.
Looking at the political map for the 22 May vote, it seems an odd coincidence that candidates supported by the Coalition for Cayman fit like a jigsaw with People’s National Alliance candidates in Grand Cayman’s larger voting districts.
The coalition has endorsed five candidates in George Town where the alliance is running no one. Each group has two candidates apiece in West Bay. In Bodden Town, the People’s National Alliance had fielded three candidates and the Coalition for Cayman had fielded one. However, alliance candidate Richard Christian was disqualified and coalition candidate Kent McTaggart bowed out early to avoid potential qualification issues. “The numbers as it were, are simply a coincidence,” Mr. Glidden said. “I know coincidences are hard to accept. There was no decisions that were made prior to in terms of strategy.”
Minister Scotland went a bit further: “[I’m] not in any way disrespectful of their professional comments and so on, but I don’t find any of [the C4C endorsed candidates] in position to be, say, the premier of the country … because we have elected experience amongst the five of us that none of those persons running for office have now.”
Mr. Glidden said the People’s National Alliance members had been in discussions with a number of candidates from across the spectrum the potential for forming a coalition government.
“We think that we would be an asset to any other grouping, especially [a] grouping that would be candidates with lesser experience than ourselves,” he said.
PPM and independents
Progressives party leader Alden McLaughlin has eschewed any public talk of forming a coalition government, at least until after the general election.
He said this in October: “I am putting out of my mind any consideration of a [pre-election] coalition. We have a strong team of candidates.”
The PPM leader did say he was willing to work with North Side and East End incumbent legislators Ezzard Miller and Arden McLean and did not run any candidates in their districts this time around.
Mr. McLaughlin, in an interview from March, did seek to curtail talk of any PPM-Coalition for Cayman grouping post-22 May.
“The C4C has certainly not indicated any interest at all in working with the Progressives,” he said. “What I can say, which I’ve said in the past, is that there are strong links between certain C4C candidates and the [United Democratic Party].”
Messrs. Miller and McLean have said publicly that they would not form any alliances with a McKeeva Bush-led government either and Mr. McLaughlin said his Progressives would certainly not do that.
“Hell will freeze over before I join any government led by McKeeva Bush,” Mr. McLaughlin said.