The 2017 general election has brought out more independent candidates and more female candidates than its predecessor in 2013, according to figures reviewed by the Cayman Compass.
For the first time since the 2000 election, the number of candidates identifying themselves as independents surpassed the number of those running with the established political parties.
Also, the percentage of female candidates went from 16 percent of the total in 2013 to 25 percent this year.
The Progressives party claimed that it had put more women on its candidate slate for the upcoming election – six – than any other political group in recent times.
There are 37 independent candidates (not affiliated with either of the two major political parties) seeking office on May 24. In 2013, there were 24 independent candidates.
The Progressives and the Cayman Democratic Party, have fielded about the same number of candidates they did in 2013. However, there is no third political party in the 2017 election as there was four years ago with the People’s National Alliance.
The Tomlinson group
About one-third of the independent candidates are being supported by Chrissie Tomlinson Memorial Hospital founder Dr. Steve Tomlinson, who said Thursday that he was hoping “some Progressives candidates and some CDP candidates – but not too many” would be elected along with some independents.
Some of the candidates Dr. Tomlinson’s group will support include Kenneth Bryan in George Town Central, Ellio Solomon in George Town West, Kenrick Webster in George Town East, Catherine Tyson in George Town South, Raul Gonzalez, Jr. in Newlands, Laura Young in West Bay South and Rudolph Dixon in Cayman Brac East.
Dr. Tomlinson said he viewed his role in the election as “trying to change the culture of Cayman politics.”
“We’re seeing a new wave of populism everywhere on the globe,” he said. “[Voters] are fed up with the stupidities. We need to try to get politicians working together … we can’t afford to be fighting with one another.”
Premier Alden McLaughlin, who is leading the Progressives’ 15 candidates into the May 24 election, has argued that a coalition government attempt following the 2000 general election “lasted one year” because of the failure of the various personalities involved to come to a consensus. The implosion of that 2000-2001 government is what led to the formation of Cayman’s two current political parties.
Dr. Tomlinson argued that governments between 1965 and 2000 in Cayman were all formed in coalitions or “teams” of like-minded individuals. He rejected Mr. McLaughlin’s earlier statements that independents would not be organized enough to govern after May 24.
“You can tell the [Progressives] this: Don’t believe for one minute that the independents I’m supporting don’t have a cohesive plan,” he said.
Dr. Tomlinson said he would consider victories by at least seven candidates he is supporting in the election to be “a win” for the country, even if they wouldn’t have enough members to form a government.
McLean and friends
Another group of independent candidates, possibly around 11, was formally announced Wednesday night at a public meeting in East End to launch MLA Arden McLean’s candidacy for re-election. Mr. McLean has apparently been formally chosen as the leader of the group.
The group consists of current MLAs Alva Suckoo, Anthony Eden, Ezzard Miller and Mr. McLean, as well as Bodden Town West hopeful Gilbert McLean.
Mr. Suckoo said Thursday that it was announced in East End that the independents group would be supporting other candidates, including Karin Thompson in George Town North, Sharon Roulstone in George Town East and Paul Hurlston in George Town South. No other members were made public during the event.
“There are a number of others who have joined us … like Ms. Roulstone … and Ms. Karin Thompson,” Mr. McLean said Wednesday night. “We’ve talked to Mr. [Mervin] Smith and Mr. [Dwayne] Seymour [independent candidates for West Bay North and Bodden Town East]; there are probably about 11 of us.”
Cayman Democratic Party leader McKeeva Bush has said his political group would also work with some of the independent candidates, like Mr. Suckoo and Mr. Bryan, should they win election.
A majority of 10 seats is required to win the assembly for any party, coalition or political group.