The Cayman Islands voters have had their say. Now it’s time for the 19 people they elected to decide who will run the government for the next four years.
As of Thursday afternoon, a group of independent elected members were meeting privately to try to hammer out a compromise on who will form the next Cabinet.
Bodden Town West MLA Chris Saunders, who was participating in the meetings, said all the independent members – minus West Bay South’s Tara Rivers – had spent the morning discussing matters. He declined to elaborate on the options being pursued, but said the group would inform the public as soon as a firm plan was decided.
“We’re not going to do the people’s business in secret,” he said.
Prospect MLA Austin Harris, who was also involved in Thursday’s talks, said the results of the Wednesday’s election sent “a resounding and clear message in support of change” for the Cayman Islands.
Mr. Harris also declined to comment on the nature of the closed-door meetings.
“It is still early days, but a government has to be formed,” he said.
Progressives members were in meetings of their own through Thursday afternoon, but declined to speak about what options were being discussed.
Although the Progressives party finished with seven seats to the independents’ nine on Wednesday night, one of the independents – Ms. Rivers – had helped form the party’s coalition in the last government, meaning the Progressives could have significant input on a new coalition arrangement as well. Ms. Rivers did not return messages seeking comment. West Bay MLA and Cayman Democratic Party Leader McKeeva Bush could not be reached for comment by press time Thursday.
One of the potential scenarios being discussed, according to those inside the talks, would make Mr. Bush Speaker of the House in a coalition arrangement between the CDP and the independents. However, it was not known whether Mr. Bush would accept such a deal.
A second scenario involved Ms. Rivers joining the rest of the independents and then potentially poaching a member or multiple members of the Progressives team for the coalition government.
A number of other iterations were being discussed, but nothing was decided by press time Thursday.
The 2017-2021 class of lawmakers will be sworn in shortly. Typically, the appointment of a Speaker of the House and a premier for the incoming government is handled as a formality.
However, if no agreement can be reached by the first meeting of the Legislative Assembly, a Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the House must be elected by a majority vote of the assembly members. Once the Speaker is in place, if no coalition is formed, the Cayman Islands Constitution makes provision for “plan B” in section 49.
It states: “If no political party gains such a majority or if no recommendation is made [by the governor for the premier’s appointment by a majority of legislative members], the Speaker shall cause a ballot to be held among the elected members of the Legislative Assembly to determine which elected member commands the support of the majority of … members.”
The Constitution requires the elected member who receives a majority of votes (10) to be appointed premier.
Compass journalist James Whittaker contributed to this story.