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Backbench exodus may trigger early poll in the Cayman Islands
Published on January 27, 2016 Email To Friend    Print Version

GEORGE TOWN, Cayman Islands (CNS) -- The departure of three members of the Cayman Islands Legislative Assembly from the government backbench could trigger an early general election, the premier said, which would be conducted under the old multi-member voting system.

alden_mclaughlin10.jpg
Premier Alden McLaughlin
Premier Alden McLaughlin said that, with a very narrow majority, his government may struggle to get through the next 14 months before the anticipated Nomination Day in March next year ahead of the May 2017 national poll.

“An early election is a very real possibility. Things are still quite unsettled and there are huge hurdles ahead,” he said.

Getting things done required “good, stable government” and getting through the next 16 months to polling day may not be possible.

McLaughlin also made it clear that if he is forced to call an early election, it will not be under the system of ‘one man, one vote’ (OMOV) because the elections office has said it needs a year to implement the changes required for a new voting system and the new constituency boundaries, which are considerably different from the previous polling areas.

This means the battle to secure OMOV in single member constituencies may be many years away if the next administration is not in support and the current People’s Progressive Movement (PPM) administration is unable to press on through the next term.

The government has a slender majority of one member on the floor, as the PPM’s tenth member, Julianna O’Connor-Connolly, currently occupies the speaker’s chair. There are options open to the premier to replace her with a speaker from outside the House to give him a stronger majority but that could also mean a reshuffle to accommodate O’Connor-Connolly on his front bench.

An independent member, Ezzard Miller, has said that he is willing to offer his support to government to ensure a quorum and has no desire to see this administration fall before the end of this term, especially if it means early elections without changing the voting system.

The problem for the administration now is that each piece of individual legislation that it wants to bring in accordance with election promises will need the full backing of every single member of the government benches to ensure its passage or support from at least one opposition or independent member.

The government will be facing that test in just a few weeks as the Legislative Assembly is set to meet on 17 February, the first time since three of its members crossed the floor.

Republished with permission of Cayman News Service
 
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