Although the story began to unfold in late 2015, it was not until early 2016 that the full extent of political defections from the ruling Progressives party were realized.
As 2015 drew to a close, two Bodden Town MLAs, Anthony Eden and Alva Suckoo, announced they were leaving the government coalition.
Then in January 2016, an announcement from George Town MLA Winston Connolly indicated that the independent legislative member would also be leaving the Progressives-led government caucus and joining the opposition side of the House.
Later in the year, Education Minister and independent West Bay MLA Tara Rivers staunched the bleeding as she announced she would remain on the government benches.
Early election speculation
With just nine members on the ruling government bench, the Progressives-led coalition was left to consider whether it would seek to remain in power with the slimmest of majorities or call for elections ahead of the usual May 2017 date.
Premier Alden McLaughlin, the Progressives party leader, said he would not speculate about what decisions the government might make. He indicated to the Cayman Compass that dissolving parliament and calling for early general elections was an option that might have been taken if the current government lost one more member.
It never did. Predictions of a difficult road ahead for the government were made by Opposition party leader McKeeva Bush in late January.
“It will be hell for [Premier McLaughlin] in the next year with barely no backbench,” Mr. Bush said. “We will be a formidable group for him to face. The official opposition, the independents and [MLAs] Ezzard [Miller] and Arden [McLean] are not weaklings, even when we must consider the country first.”
Independents meet with governor
Opposition independent members of the Legislative Assembly, including Mr. McLean, Mr. Miller, Mr. Suckoo and Mr. Eden, met with Governor Helen Kilpatrick, who would have been required to approve the call for early elections if one had been made and no party was able to gain a majority of assembly seats. The independents were adamantly opposed to the prospect of elections before May 2017 and intended to tell Ms. Kilpatrick about their views.
“We think it’s ridiculous and none of us support it,” said Bodden Town MLA Alva Suckoo of the prospect of a 2016 vote, which would likely have to have been held under the former multimember district voting system, not the single-member districts lawmakers agreed to last year.
In the end, speculation about an early general election fizzled and the date of May 24, 2017 seemed likely to hold as the year drew to a close.
The government also managed to host two of its most productive Legislative Assembly meetings ever in the latter half of 2016, passing some 40 separate pieces of legislation.
Mr. McLaughlin’s Progressives-led coalition still maintains a slim majority, with 10 out of 18 elected Legislative Assembly members. That majority includes Speaker of the House Juliana O’Connor-Connolly who does not get a vote except in the case of a tie-breaker.