Cayman coalition confirmed after days of wrangling

After nearly a week of confused negotiations following an inconclusive result in the Cayman Islands General Election, a new Government of National Unity has been agreed on.

In the May 24 election, independent candidates took nine seats of the nineteen available in the territory’s legislature. The incumbent People’s Progressive Movement (PPM) took seven seats, and the opposition Cayman Democratic Party (CDP) three.

Under a final agreement reached on May 29, the People’s Progressive Movement led by Premier Alden McLaughlin agreed to share power in a Government of National Unity that includes eight independent candidates. The leader of the opposition CDP, McKeeva Bush, himself a former Premier, has agreed to accept the post of Speaker.

Against a background of rapidly changing alliances, backroom deals and claims and counter claims on Facebook, it was initially announced on May 26 that the PPM had struck a deal with the opposition CDP in an arrangement that could have seen Mr Bush return as Premier. However, hours later it was announced that the CDP had instead decided to form a government of national unity with most of the independents who had won seats in the election.

This suggestion was met with dissatisfaction among many Caymanians and senior political figureswho viewed it as failing to reflect the political sentiment of the electorate. After further negotiations, a commitment to form a Government of National Unity was agreed.

The arrangement sees Mr McLaughlin remain as Premier. The governing PPM-independent coalition agreed to allocate three cabinet seats to the independents and four to the PPM. Mr Bush will serve in the neutral position of Speaker of the House.

Commenting on the outcome, the Cayman News Service said that the resurgence of independent candidates ‘underscored the problem of electing a group of non-aligned individuals who have not discussed their policy platforms with each other before being elected, leaving the question of who forms the government being answered, once again, in back rooms rather than in the ballot box’. It went on to note that ‘the fact that almost half of the independents are aligned in a group has meant that a government that reflects the vote appears to have finally emerged’.

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