(CNS Elections): So far, two parties have said that they will be fielding candidates in the May elections: the ruling Progressives (a.k.a. the PPM) and the Cayman Democratic Party (CDP), which was formerly the United Democratic Party (UDP). Two of the declared candidates have said that they are running as a group with other, as yet unnamed, candidates, while the rest are running as individuals and are not affiliated with any candidates in other districts.
On 8 November 2001, McKeeva Bush, a backbench MLA at the time, led a political coup to oust Kurt Tibbetts from the position of leader of government business. On the same day Bush formed the UDP, which, although politicians had grouped together in ‘teams’ before this, was the Cayman Islands’ first political party.
The People’s Progressive Movement, now also known as the Progressives, was founded in 2002. Since the formation of these two parties, there has been hot debate about whether political parties are good for the Cayman Islands or not.
The main arguments in favour of the country being run by a particular party is that this provides stability, especially immediately after an election because the leader of the party becomes the premier and selects his Cabinet, thus avoiding the ‘horse trading’ of the past, when newly elected MLAs jockeyed for positions in government, and deals that had nothing to do with the voters were struck behind closed doors.
In addition, party supporters say, the electorate can have more confidence that the person they are voting for will, if their party wins a majority in the Legislative Assembly, be better able to deliver on their promises. In contrast, independent candidates will have to work harder — and perhaps be unable — to find support in the House for their ideas.
However, some people think that MLAs who are members of a party are hamstrung by the collective goals and manifesto of that party, forced to support ideas that they do not necessarily believe in, which may be a hindrance rather than a boon to democracy.
So, what do you think? Are we now on an unstoppable path of party politics, or should the Cayman Islands return to the old way of selecting a Cabinet? Or does it ultimately make little difference?
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