(CNS): Political jitters over the possibility of an early general election under the old multi-member system appear to have been allayed. In response to a letter that was sent to the governor from the recently swelled ranks of independent MLAs, the deputy governor has confirmed that the next election, whenever it happens, must be under the new system of ‘one man, one vote’ in single member constituencies because the order has already been signed and passed by parliament.
North Side MLA Ezzard Miller has confirmed that he and his colleagues, Arden McLean, Anthony Eden, Alva Suckoo and Winston Connolly, have received a response from the Office of the Deputy Governor stating that the premier has not asked or made any indication that he wants to call an election but if he does, it will be conducted under the new system.
The order, which was passed in the Legislative Assembly and signed by the governor, indicates quite clearly that the next general election in Cayman will be in single member constituencies with all electors having just one vote. The government still needs to amend the elections law before Cayman goes to the polls but the order signed by the governor protects that reform.
Premier Alden McLaughlin said last month that if he called for early elections, it would have to be conducted under the multi-member system because the Elections Office required a full year to prepare for the new system. He said an early election was a very real possibility after three members of the government benches crossed the floor between November and January, cutting the government’s voting majority (since the speaker does not vote) to just one.
McLaughlin told CNS last month that there was a long way to go before May 2017 and the reduced majority would pose problems for the government.
The real danger for the PPM administration is the potential loss of another member. Education Minister Tara Rivers is now the only non-Progressive member on the government benches after Connolly crossed the floor and Roy McTaggart joined the PPM.
There has however been no indication from Rivers that she plans on leaving her Cabinet post. With three major pieces of legislation and the impending implementation of the minimum wage, it’s very unlikely that the second elected member for West Bay will leave the job without steering through the labour and pension law amendments, as well as the new education law.