Victory for the progressives in cayman islands snap election

By Jonathan Kitto,

The Progressives, led by new party leader Roy McTaggart, look set to form a coalition government after securing 7 seats in Wednesday’s Snap election. The election, which had been due to take place on the 26th May, was called forward in order to dissolve parliament and avoid a vote of no confidence in the Speaker of the House, McKeeva Bush.

Mr Bush was convicted of three counts of assault after a drunken incident in which he attacked a female bar manager. He has been served with a suspended prison sentence and ordered to pay nearly £5,000 in fines to compensate for the victim’s medical expenses and emotional distress.

Due to Mr Bush’s refusal to resign, former Premier Alden McLaughlin asked Governor Martyn Roper to dissolve parliament and trigger early elections, which automatically vacates the seat of Speaker. This avoided a motion of no confidence submitted by the opposition, led by Arden McLean, preventing further scrutiny of the government and the Speaker in parliament.

There are 19 seats in the Cayman Parliament, with members elected in single seat constituencies using first past the post. The two main parties are Premier Alden McLaughlin’s People’s Progressive Movement and the now defunct Cayman Democratic Party. In the 2017 election the People’s Progressive Party secured 7 seats while the Cayman Democratic Party won 3 seats. This left independents as the largest group in parliament with 9 seats. Some independents sat in coalition with the government while others remained in opposition. The dominance of independents in a parliament is unusual, however political parties have only existed in the Cayman Islands for 20 years, with the first party being formed in 2001. Previously all candidates seeking election were non-partisan.

Interestingly, this election saw the return of Andre Ebanks to domestic politics. Having served as the head of the Cayman Islands’ UK Office for two years, he resigned his position to be able to stand for election. Mr Ebanks was successfully elected as an independent candidate.

Former premier Alden McLaughlin was successfully re-elected in his Red Bay constituency and in fact, all members who had held ministerial positions in the last government successfully retained their seats. McKeeva Bush narrowly defended his seat by a margin of only 27 votes, with commentators believing that his recent convictions substantially damaged his vote share.

The election has also seen some veteran policy makers ejected from the Cayman Islands Parliament, with both former opposition leader Arden McLean and Austin Harris losing their seats.

Ultimately Roy McTaggart’s Progressive Party has successfully retained all 7 of its seats, with independents winning the remaining 12. McTaggart hailed the results as clear affirmation that the Cayman people are confident in their government. Alliance member Dwayne Seymour, an independent candidate aligned with the Progressives, also retained his seat. This means the Progressives only need to find two more independents to enter coalition and form a government.

Everyone at the Friends of the British Overseas Territories would like to convey their congratulations to Roy McTaggart and the People’s Progressive Movement on their electoral victory, as well as to all MPs that have been elected to serve the people of the Cayman Islands.