Caymanian general election, 2013
General elections were held in the Cayman Islands on 22 May 2013. The incumbent United Democratic Party (UDP) government fell on a motion of non-confidence in December 2012 and was replaced by an interim government made up of former UDP members who formed the People's National Alliance (PNA). The main competition in the election was between the People's Progressive Movement (Progressives) and the UDP, with the PNA and a new political group the Coalition for Cayman (C4C) presenting an insufficient number of candidates to win a majority government.
The Progressives won half of the seats (9), with the UDP and C4C taking 3 each, and outgoing Premier of the Cayman Islands Juliana O'Connor-Connolly holding the only seat for the PNA. The two incumbent independents were also re-elected. Progressive leader Alden McLaughlin formed a new government.
In the 2009 elections, the United Democratic Party led by its founder and former Premier McKeeva Bush won a majority government. Bush returned to office as Premier until December 2012, when he lost a motion of confidence in the legislature. The confidence motion was triggered by a criminal investigation of Bush and was supported by the opposition People's Progressive Movement and dissident members of his own party, including members of the cabinet. A new government was formed by these dissidents, led by Bush's former deputy Juliana O'Connor-Connolly. Bush would later be charged with four counts of breach of trust, and five counts of theft. Bush continued to lead his party. O'Connor-Connolly and her cabinet formed their own party called the People's National Alliance, but only the five incumbent cabinet ministers stood as candidates under its banner. A fourth party, the Coalition for Cayman, put forward seven candidates, whilst 17 independents also contested the elections.
The outgoing Legislative Assembly had 18 members, of which three were appointed (the Chief Secretary, the Attorney-General and the Financial Secretary) and 15 were elected. However, under constitutional changes passed in 2009, the new assembly will have 18 elected members. George Town gained 2 new seats, and Bodden Town gained one new seat. Each of the six districts forms a constituency, with six members elected in George Town, four each in West Bay and Bodden Town, two in Cayman Brac and Little Cayman and one in North Side and East End. The members of the multi-member districts are elected by plurality-at-large voting, where every voter can vote for as many candidates as there are seats.
The opposition Progressives more than doubled their seat count to 9, bringing them one seat short of an overall majority. Progressive leader Alden McLaughlin has said he will talk with Change for Cayman (C4C) and independent MLAs about the possibility of supporting his government. Another option would be having an opposition member become speaker, which would give the Progressives a majority of 9-8 among voting members.
The opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) lost 1 seat but was down 6 from their 2009 result, and failed to sweep the West Bay district for the first time in 12 years. The governing People's National Alliance, a breakaway group from the UDP, lost 4 of its 5 seats. C4C, a new political organization, won 3 seats, while incumbent independents Ezzard Miller and Arden McLean (a former Progressive) held their seats.
|People's Progressive Movement||21,859||36.1||9||+4|
|United Democratic Party||16,816||27.8||3||–6|
|Coalition for Cayman||11,275||18.6||3||New|
|People's National Alliance||3,436||5.7||1||New|
|Total votes cast||60,598||100||18||+3|
|First Elected Member||Kurt Tibbetts||2470||41.9%||Kurt Tibbetts|
|Second Elected Member||Roy McTaggart||2160||36.7%||Michael Adam|
|Third Elected Member||Alden McLaughlin||2145||36.4%||Alden McLaughlin|
|Fourth Elected Member||Marco Archer||2085||35.4%||Ellio Solomon|
|Fifth Elected Member||Winston Conolly||2039||34.6%||new seat|
|Sixth Elected Member||Joseph Hew||1940||32.9%||new seat|
|First Elected Member||McKeeva Bush||1583||47.3%||McKeeva Bush|
|Second Elected Member||Tara Rivers||1483||44.3%||Rolston Anglin|
|Third Elected Member||Bernie Bush||1460||43.6%||Cline Glidden|
|Fourth Elected Member||Eugene Ebanks||1307||39.0%||Eugene Ebanks|
|First Elected Member||Anthony Eden||1781||49.6%||Mark Scotland|
|Second Elected Member||Osbourne Bodden||1615||45.0%||Anthony Eden|
|Third Elected Member||Wayne Panton||1571||43.7%||Dwayne Seymour|
|Fourth Elected Member||Alva Suckoo||1393||38.8%||new seat|
|Cayman Brac and Little Cayman
|First Elected Member||Moses Kirkconnell||628||75.2%||Moses Kirkconnell|
|Second Elected Member||Juliana O'Connor-Connolly||461||55.2%||Juliana O'Connor-Connolly|
|Elected Member||Ezzard Miller||326||70.1%||Ezzard Miller|
|Unsuccessful candidate||Joseph Ebanks||139||29.9%|
|Elected Member||Arden McLean||317||57.2%||Arden McLean|
|Unsuccessful candidate||John McLean||237||42.8%|
No party won an overall majority, but with the Progressives winning half of the seats and three times more seats than any other grouping, they're expected to form the government, either on their own or in coalition with independent members. It is expected that the government will be formed within a week of the election.
Independent members-elect from the C4C group and others had held preliminary talks among themselves to see about forming a coalition government with the Progressives. However, Alden McLaughlin's Progressives have secured a workable majority in the legislature by getting the agreement of outgoing premier Juliana O'Connor-Connolly to serve as speaker, leaving the Progressives a 9-8 majority of ordinarily voting members. McLaughlin held a news conference on Saturday May 25 naming the Progressives that would sit in cabinet and also indicating that he had asked C4C-backed MLA Tara Rivers to join the cabinet, which would give the government a 10-7 working majority. Thereafter, Rivers held a public meeting to assess her constituents views on whether to join the cabinet, the public was nearly unanimous in supporting her to join. Following Rivers public meeting, the two other C4C MLAs indicated that they would reconsider their previous announcement not to join the government. As a result, McLaughlin cancelled a planned morning news conference on Tuesday May 28 in order to have further discussions with the C4C MLAs with an eye to a potential Progressives/C4C coalition government.
Later Tuesday, it was announced that O'Connor-Connolly would join the Progressive caucus despite earlier statements that she would not do so when she was announced as speaker. As a result, the Progressives have a true majority of 10-8 allowing them to be appointed to government by the Governor of the Cayman Islands without a vote of the legislature. Thereafter, McLaughlin announced the full make-up of his cabinet, including a portfolio for C4C MLA Tara Rivers. McLaughlin also announced that C4C MLA Winston Connolly would sit in the government caucus and play a role in Rivers' ministry in a non-cabinet position and that the government would support the other C4C MLA Roy McTaggart for chair of the Public Accounts Committee. Two weeks after the election, McTaggart crossed the floor to sit with his C4C colleagues in the government caucus, accordingly he will have to step down from his position as Chairman of Public Accounts, a post always occupied by an opposition member. This leaves the government with a 13-5 majority.
This will be the last election under the block voting system as a result of the election of the Progressives. Progressive leader Alden McLaughlin reiterated his commitment after the election to move to a "one man one vote" system with a single-member electoral districts. McLaughlin will use the result of the non-binding 2012 referendum on such a system rather than holding a new referendum.
After the results of the vote, the husband of the fifth-place finisher in the West Bay electoral district Velma Powery-Hewitt, filed a suit in the Grand Court of the Cayman Islands challenging the eligibility of Tara Rivers to have run and serve in the legislative assembly. Had the challenge been successful, Powery-Hewitt stood to take Rivers' seat in the legislature.
The Cayman Islands constitution forbids election to the legislative assembly to a person:
- not born in the Cayman Islands from having been absent from the Cayman Islands for more than 400 days in the preceding 7 years, unless it was for government service, service at air or at sea, or for educational or medical reasons.
- who holds another citizenship "save for any right he or she may have to some other citizenship by virtue of his or her birth outside the Cayman Islands."
The challenger argued that Rivers had been absent to the UK for more than 400 days where Rivers worked at a law firm. Rivers argued that her work at the law firm included extensive training and that it should be deemed "attendance as a student at (an) educational establishment" as permitted by the constitution. The challenger also argued that by applying for and receiving a U.S. passport, to which Rivers was entitled by virtue of having been born there, she was express allegiance to the United States and was therefore ineligible under the restrictions against dual citizenship. Rivers argued that no allegiance was given in exchange for the passport and that she was required by law as a U.S. citizen to enter the U.S. using a U.S. passport, not the passport of another country.
The court ruled with Rivers and she was allowed to keep her seat. This prompted some complaint from others who did not present themselves as candidates though they had the same qualifications as Rivers but were advised they were ineligible to run by elections officials, and by an individual who had renounced her U.S. citizenship believing she had to do so to run. Powery-Hewitt's husband later attempted to appeal the decision, but as the Constitution states that electoral questions are the sole jurisdiction of the Grand Court, the Court of Appeal declined to hear the case.
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