While the dust may have settled when it comes to the winners in the 2021 election, the actual formation of Cayman’s government remains an open question.
Various groups were locked in negotiations Thursday morning in an effort to secure coalition partners.
The Progressives, led by Roy McTaggart, retained their seven seats at the close of the polls. Looped into their inner circle is independent Bodden Town East MP Dwayne Seymour. That means they need to recruit two more independents to get the 10 they need to form a government.
McTaggart appeared confident that would be achievable in the early hours of Thursday – targeting a broad coalition of 12 or 14 candidates under his leadership.
However, the possibility remains open that an alternative government could emerge among the 11 independent members. Wayne Panton, who won convincingly in Newlands, was tipped prior to the polls as the most likely alternative for premier.
It is understood that he is among a group of independents in talks today in an effort to put a team together.
Panton could not be reached this morning, but speaking to the Compass last night he appeared hopeful that he could help pull together a coalition.
“It’s really up to the rest of us to come together and have some discussions. That may or may not include some people within the Progressives and I don’t know at this point,” he said.
“I intend to call some of them to offer my congratulations; perhaps I might even speak to most of them.
“The intention is to have a discussion amongst the independents to work to see if we can put together a government that will serve the best interests of this country, but most importantly reflect the wishes of the people of this country.”
On the campaign trail, alliances emerged formally and some gleaned from platform appearances.
East End MP-elect Isaac Rankine, who captured the scalp of veteran MP Arden McLean, remains one of three key players that can swing leadership from the Progressives. The others are West Bay South-elect Andre Ebanks and North Side-elect Johany Ebanks.
Outgoing premier Alden McLaughlin named those three on the eve of the election, as well as Heather Bodden, as people he believed the Progressives could work with. But he told the Compass Wednesday there was no formal agreements in place.
Following his victory in East End, Rankine told supporters he was intent on being part of the government.
“They are not going to form the government without us,” he announced amid chants of “Isaac, Isaac, Isaac” and “East End first” at Heritage Field.
He has not confirmed any alliance with the Progressives, however.
In a brief statement Thursday, he said he “has immediately begun working and further updates and announcements will be made in due course”.
He added, “there are no other comments at this time” as he sent thanks to the district of East End for giving him the opportunity to be their new member of Parliament.
McTaggart was not available for comment Thursday morning but he and the Progressives leadership are understood to be working the phones today in an effort to get over the line.
Speaking after the result last night, McTaggart said he was overjoyed with the result.
“All of the incumbent Progressives candidates were elected quite resoundingly.
“We are starting with a position of strength,” he said in reference to negotiations.
Wednesday’s official results from the Elections Office saw 12 incumbents and seven newcomers, including five women, win the 19 seats.
The winners are:
West Bay North – Bernie Bush
West Bay West – McKeeva Bush
West Bay Central – Katherine Ebanks-Wilks
West Bay South – André Ebanks
George Town North – Joey Hew
George Town West – David Wight
George Town Central – Kenneth Bryan
George Town South – Barbara Conolly
George Town East – Roy McTaggart
Red Bay – Alden McLaughlin
Prospect – Sabrina Turner
Savannah – Heather Bodden
Newlands – Wayne Panton
Bodden Town West – Christopher Saunders
Bodden Town East – Dwayne Seymour
North Side – Jay Ebanks
East End – Isaac Rankine
Cayman Brac West and Little Cayman – Moses Kirkconnell
Cayman Brac East – Juliana O’Connor-Connolly