McTaggart would have worked with McLaughlin
As the Progressives took strides toward forming a government this weekend, independent members were meeting in an effort to negotiate a more inclusive coalition.
People’s Progressive Movement leader Alden McLaughlin said Saturday that he had successfully formed a majority government by appointing Juliana O’Connor-Connolly as speaker, leaving his party with a 9-8 majority on the floor of the Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly.
He was poised to announce his Cabinet on Tuesday morning with independent West Bay representative Tara Rivers still considering an offer to join the government at press time Monday.
Behind the scenes this weekend the independent legislators met in an effort to begin talks over a coalition with the PPM.
Roy McTaggart, a representative for George Town endorsed by the Coalition for Cayman, said talks had taken place, but had failed to bear fruit.
He said he had been prepared to relax his stance against working under Mr. McLaughlin’s leadership “in the best interests of the country”, if a genuinely inclusive coalition could have been formed. He said he had been impressed with Mr. McLaughlin’s conciliatory and inclusive statements since Thursday’s vote and was now reconsidering whether to sit on the government back benches.
“At this time I am not in any discussions with anybody else to try to form a government. I have accepted this will be a PPM, Alden McLaughlin-led administration,” he said Monday.
What was being discussed among the independents was a “genuine coalition” between the PPM and independent members with the independents playing a more prominent role than is now envisioned. The discussions did not reach the stage where the PPM was directly involved, Mr. McTaggart said.
“I am interested in a genuine coalition,” he said. “That is what I have tried to achieve from the outset. It would have to have been negotiated to see if we could achieve a more even share of responsibilities. We had some discussions among the independent candidates as to whether we could do that. We had no meetings with the PPM and at the end of the day, it just hasn’t happened.”
He said there had been no discussions between himself and the United Democratic Party leadership, specifically legislator McKeeva Bush.
There remains some doubt as to whether the decision to appoint former Premier O’Connor-Connolly as speaker does in fact give the Progressives the majority required to rule effectively as government
The Cayman Islands Constitution requires a quorum, made up of the majority of the elected members, to be present in the Legislative Assembly, “in addition to the person presiding” for any business to take place. That suggests that the PPM would need a 10th person to join the government (in addition to Ms O’Connor-Connolly’s appointment as speaker) to enable it to pass legislation without opposition cooperation.
Those concerns may be rendered irrelevant if Tara Rivers accepts an offer to join the Cabinet. Mr. McLaughlin said at a press conference on Saturday that he had offered the West Bay newcomer, also endorsed by the C4C, a position in his government.
He said she would not have to join the PPM and she has indicated she would remain an independent member if she does decide to accept the post. Ms Rivers was scheduled to meet with constituents in West Bay on Monday night to decide her future.
Mr. McTaggart said there would be no pressure from anyone else endorsed by the C4C and it would be up to Ms Rivers to make the call.
“She can seek advice if she wants to but there is no pressure for her to talk to anyone,” he said. “She’s an independent member and it is her decision alone.”