Who will be premier?

As the polls close on Wednesday evening following the Cayman Islands general election, the real race for power could be just about to begin. 

With the prospect of neither of the two main parties gaining enough seats to form a government looming large, a coalition remains a distinct possibility. 

It could take up to a week from the day the polls close to the announcement of a new premier, if there is no clear winner on the day, though politicians believe the matter will be 
settled quickly. 

Much of the negotiations will take place behind the scenes with serious jockeying for position likely to begin Wednesday night as the make-up of the new Legislative Assembly becomes clear. 

If neither party gains enough seats to select the premier, the Cayman Islands Constitution 
requires that a meeting of the assembly is called and a recorded vote takes place among the 18 members. The candidate who wins the backing of the majority of the elected members will be appointed premier by the governor. 

Veteran politicians who have been through many election cycles say the leadership will likely be thrashed out in a series of phone calls and face-to-face meetings between the key players in the immediate aftermath of the vote. By the time the assembly is called, an informal agreement between members will likely have been reached.  

Much of the horse trading is taking place already. Several independents, including the Coalition for Cayman candidates, have publicly ruled out working with the United Democratic Party, though UDP leader McKeeva Bush believes their attitude may change once the results become known. 

“I’ve been down this road before,” said Mr. Bush, a veteran of previous coalition governments. “They say a lot of things, but once they realise they can’t form a government they are scampering to call us and get us involved. That is the right thing to do. What is wrong is them coming out and saying they are not going to work with people who the voters have elected.” 

Publicly, both the UDP and the rival People’s Progressive Movement leadership have expressed confidence that they will get the 10 seats required to win leadership. But others, including Roy McTaggart, an independent endorsed by the Coalition for Cayman, believe a coalition government is almost certain. 

“This is one election where the result is very difficult to call,” he said. “I think we are going to see a coalition government, but who leads that is up in the air. I’m not ruling out the possibility of a coalition led by independents if there are people elected with enough in common to form a government.” 

Mr. McTaggart stopped short of putting forward himself as a contender for the leadership. Should the C4C get a handful of candidates through the door they will likely look toward whichever candidate got the most votes as the person to back for a leadership role, he said. 

Premier Juliana O’Connor-Connolly said she was ready and willing to play a role in any coalition government if she regains her Cayman Brac seat. 

“I believe at this stage it is anybody’s ball game,” she said. “Once the people have spoken we owe it to the country to get the right people together and I’m prepared to be one of those people.” 

She said she was willing to lead the country again if asked, but insisted it was not a personal priority.  

The Cayman Islands Constitution Order of 2009 sets out a clear process for the selection of a premier following an election. 

If either the Progressives or the UDP gains a majority they will have the right to select the premier and inform the governor of their recommendation.  

There is a subtle distinction between the natural assumption that this would mean the party leader – either McKeeva Bush or Alden McLaughlin – would automatically be premier and the wording of the constitution, which allows for some flexibility. 

Section 49 (2) of the constitution order states: “Where a political party gains a majority of the seats of elected members of the Legislative Assembly, the governor shall appoint as premier the elected member of the assembly recommended by a majority of the elected members who are members 
of that party.” 

Suzanne Bothwell, who was director of the Constitutional Review Secretariat, said the phrasing of the clause allowed room for political manoeuvring or the eventuality that a party could get a majority without its leader being elected. 

In that scenario, opposition legislators would have no say in the leadership and it would come down to the choice of the winning party. 

In the case of a coalition government, the constitution specifies that all elected members would have a vote in a leadership ballot to be held in the Legislative Assembly. 

“The governor shall appoint as premier the elected member who obtains the majority of the votes of the elected members.” 

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8 COMMENTS

  1. Here is perhaps one amendment we to the Constitution…

    Thank God that this time the people have more than two options other than UDP and PPM, which could lead to the formulation of a coalition government. At least national matters will be debated into law instead of being rushed through by one party. So I am happy that we have C4C, PNA, and Independents. It looks like we are going to have a coalition government.

    As for the current government, the PNA alliance, I personally think that Julianna OConner has done a great job being our first woman Premier, and I wouldn’t mind seeing her in that capacity again. I would rather see Rolston Anglin and Cline Glidden take back their seats in West Bay instead of any of the UDP candidates.

    So West Bay we are counting on you to make a difference. 🙂

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  2. It matters not. We are going to get shafted with more taxes, unchecked immigration and another bunch of wishy-washy wannabes for another 4 years. I’ll be enjoying the day off, there’s not much else to look forward to.
    When the righteous are in authority the people rejoice but when the wicked beareth rule the people mourn. (Proverbs 29:2 – KJV)
    Let’s be honest folks, there hasn’t been much rejoicing going on lately, has there? I have not seen ONE upright, godly character among this entire bunch of candidates, and my vote is not for sale.

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  3. Bodden I definitely agree and support your comments. I believe we are going to have a coalition Government. After following closely on the heels of the PNA, the C4C and the INDEPENDENTS I feel that a mixture of these groups will do a better job.
    Cayman would be foolish to vote back in the PPM. Take a serious look at them and really see who they are. Would you say they are for the best interest of this country, or would you suspect Power. The leadership and followers of the PPM have done much harm to this country. We do not need them back in to finish destroy and broke this country.
    The UDP, I cannot even find a place to put them again either because I trust none of them. Check each one of them out thoroughly and decide for yourself what they are all about. Are they honest people? you be the judge.
    I have followed politics closely and know very much about Cayman and its Politicians and want to be politicians. Speaking generally my advice to Cayman is to think seriously before you make the X.
    This is what Cayman needs as I see it. We definitely need the PNA People National Alliance to continue their work, because the things that they have achieved in 5 Five months, neither the UDP or PPM have achieved. Check their track record.
    Then we need a mixture of C4C and Independents with them. Ladies and gentlemen make your choice carefully. Select people who can speak good, people of intelligence, persons that are God fearing, aggressive, yet humble in their approach; and most importantly remember we are not on our own, We are children of a King (God) and we are ruled by the UK. Respect both of them and we will be ok. We must also endeavor to get along with the expatriates among us, because; not all but many of them are helping to build this Island. Be good to yourselves and God bless Cayman Islands.

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  4. Who ever is elected Premier, you can bet it will not be unusual business as usual. I challenge each official to watch or read; The Zeitgeist: Addendum, and reverse the imposed threat to our nation by the selling of our public utilities and businesses. Caymanians, if you wish to retain any semblance of a nation, do not allow anyone to divest your utility companies or Cayman Airways. And give back our public works department the authority to continue to build our interest.

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