However, in terms of the political aspect of government — i.e., elected lawmakers and the successive administrations that emerge to rule — in recent years we have had more than our share of instability.
Recall, for example, the fate of Cayman’s first Premier McKeeva Bush, whose United Democratic Party government toppled after his arrest in late 2012 on corruption-related charges, of which he was later acquitted on all counts by a jury. An interim People’s National Alliance administration, led by Premier Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, watched over the House until the May 2013 elections, after which the current Progressives government, led by Premier Alden McLaughlin, was formed.
Mr. Bush, of course, is now the Leader of the Opposition, while Ms. O’Connor-Connolly allied herself with the Progressives and became Speaker of the House.
With about a year-and-a-half to go until the 2017 elections, the ground is once again trembling beneath the feet of Cayman’s elected government.
At the epicenter of the tremors is the departure of veteran Bodden Town MLA Anthony Eden from the Progressives government in late November, because of his disagreements with the party over its approach to same-sex marriage rights emanating from European courts. (Mr. Eden, in case you need reminding, is against it.)
A month later, just before the close of the year, freshman Bodden Town MLA Alva Suckoo followed Mr. Eden out of the Progressives party and into the opposite aisle of the Legislative Assembly.
As it currently stands, there are 10 members of the elected government (eight Progressives and two independents), plus Speaker O’Connor-Connolly, and there are seven members of the opposition, including three from Mr. Bush’s Cayman Islands Democratic Party and four independents. If just one more MLA abandons the Progressives-led government, it throws potential procedural wrenches into the Legislative Assembly’s ability to take unalloyed action. (For additional background, read today’s Compass news story on the topic.) If more leave, then it could lead to the government’s dissolution and calling of early elections.
One alternative to the government’s collapse would be a shuffling of power within the Progressives, meaning an internal mutiny against Premier McLaughlin.
While none of the other remaining members of government have publicly stated their intentions to leave the ruling coalition, make no mistake that earnest closed-door conversations continue to occur, and despite any assurances of “business as usual” in the Legislative Assembly, individual dominoes are still wobbling.
Until now, this Editorial Board has refrained from commenting on the future of Premier McLaughlin’s government. One reason for our reserve is that we wish to avoid the appearance that we are attempting to sway the decisions of any particular politicians. We are not. Whether a lawmaker stays, or goes, is a matter of personal conscience and conviction.
Another reason is that, in our view, the broader structure of the Cayman government (comprising our laws, offices and institutions) is founded upon solid bedrock, that is the Cayman Islands Constitution, and is bulwarked by the United Kingdom. Cayman’s government, in the sense of our democracy, remains solid and unassailable. In that respect, a potential change of elected government, even if it is abrupt, poses no real threat at all — it is merely change.
There is still time for this government and this premier. The die has not yet been cast. But it will, soon, if not by legislators choosing sides, then by voters choosing representatives in May 2017.