Progressives leader Roy McTaggart has announced that he has secured an agreement of 10 elected members enabling his party to form a coalition government with him as premier.
This is the latest twist in the unfolding battle to form a government, following Wednesday’s general election.
The deal involves two MPs, Prospect’s Sabrina Turner and East End’s Isaac Rankine, who had previously been announced as part of Wayne Panton’s proposed coalition of independents. That alliance now appears to have crumbled, though there remains potential for further political moves.
McTaggart said in a statement issued in the early hours of 16 April, “I am pleased to confirm that we have an agreement with 10 elected members (including himself) to form the Government and to elect me as Premier.
“This will allow the country to have a stable Government and continuity as we address the rebuilding from Covid,” he wrote in the brief announcement, which came just after midnight.
The deals with Turner and Rankine, if they hold, would give the Progressives and their partners the 10 seats needed to take power.
North Side MP Johany ‘Jay’ Ebanks’ signature block appears on the agreement document but is unsigned.
The latest announcement comes after intense and lengthy negotiations through Thursday night.
Rankine and Ebanks faced repeated social media attacks and active campaigns from commenters to dissuade them from joining with the Roy McTaggart-led Progressives.
This latest deal follows a statement earlier in the day in which Wayne Panton, newly elected Newlands MP, announced he had joined forces with nine other independent members and intended to form Cayman’s new government, dubbed PACT.
Panton said he would take the premiership post with Bodden Town West MP Chris Saunders as his deputy and Alric Lindsay as Speaker, according to a press release from the group.
He also met with Governor Martyn Roper and presented his letter confirming the support of 10 MPs, with the remaining eight Kenneth Bryan, Bernie Bush, Katherine Ebanks-Wilks, André Ebanks, Sabrina Turner, Isaac Rankine, Jay Ebanks and Heather Bodden, the release had stated.
In his press release, Panton declared himself ‘Premier Designate’ of a coalition of independents .
However, that announcement was overshadowed by a Progressives statement, issued by party leader McTaggart later in the day saying that discussions were still ongoing with independents despite Panton’s announcement.
That statement acknowledged Panton’s announcement, saying “It appears that despite our efforts at outreach to those we wish to bring into government, that Mr.Wayne Panton has met with the Governor and provided him with a letter signed overnight by 10 independent members claiming to have formed the Government.”
Negotiations have been going on since the results were confirmed on Wednesday night.
Initially the Progressives alliance, which won eight seats, expressed confidence that they would have the numbers to secure a government in coalition with two or more independents.
At that time, they apparently believed they had agreements to partner with Isaac Rankine in East End and Johany Ebanks in North Side.
However, things changed overnight as Panton said he had pulled together a team of 10 independents.
McKeeva Bush and Dwayne Seymour were the only ‘independents’ not listed as part of the coalition.
Panton was photographed with the governor and appeared confident that he had a secure coalition ready to form the next government. He asked for a session of Parliament to be called for Wednesday, 21 April for the members to be sworn in and for him to be elected premier.
“I am delighted, impressed, and inspired by the level of maturity shown by the elected independent members to put aside political differences that arose on the campaign to work in the best interest of our islands,” he said in a press release.
The Progressives responded to the news by issuing their own statement Thursday evening claiming the negotiations to form a government were far from over.
McTaggart indicated it was still in talks with independent candidates and their representatives in the hope of reassembling a coalition that Progressives leaders thought was in place when the results were announced Wednesday night.
“The Progressives Alliance secured eight seats and we had arrangements with Isaac Rankine and Jay Ebanks for them to help to form the government when they won,” the statement indicated.
McTaggart said he believed the results of Wednesday’s election showed the country wanted his team to continue. Eight of the 12 candidates running on a Progressives alliance ticket were elected Wednesday.
At that time, McTaggart acknowledged that Panton had taken a letter of intent to the governor but he said the negotiations were continuing and the Progressives were hopeful they could still form a government.
All partnerships, written or otherwise, are tentative until the first session of Parliament when the new members are sworn in.
It remains possible that the latest coalition could fall before then.
- James Whittaker and Reshma Ragoonath contributed to this story