There’s been a last-minute tectonic shift in Cayman’s post-election political landscape just hours before the new opening of parliament, swearing-in of the new batch of MPs (some returning) and the confirmation of a new government.
Two members from the Progressives and Independents Alliance have switched sides and joined the Wayne-Panton-led PACT group (People-driven, Accountable, Competent and Transparent).
Juliana O’Connor-Connolly, the MP for Cayman Brac East, and Isaac Rankine who won the East End seat have now given the PACT group the clear majority it needs to form the next government.
Today’s developments, a matter of hours before the opening of the new session of parliament averts what was amounting to a constitutional crisis, but as of now, still leaves several questions unanswered.
In a statement attributed to MP O’Connor-Connolly, she is quoted as saying that she has been guaranteed a ministerial post following a demand from her Cayman Brac East constituents for her to be in government and not opposition.
She was the Minister of Education, Youth, Sports, Agriculture and Lands in the previous Progressives-led government under former Alden McLaughlin.
Mr Rankine who ran as an independent, who was named in the original PACT coalition after the election but within a day had crossed over to the Progressives along with Sabrina Turner (Independent - Prospect).
In a series of developments which have cast a shadow over the formation of the next government and resulted in heated political divisions, she then rejoined the PACT camp over the weekend.
Mr Rankine did likewise today but it is unclear what position he will have in the PACT government.
That is expected to be clarified at or shortly after today’s swearing-in ceremony.
Another surprise development came on Monday when McKeeva Bush, the last Speaker announced that he had signed on with the PACT group to continue as Speaker.
The constant switching of allegiances had given the PACT a narrow one-seat majority in the 19-seat Parliament. It had also raised several constitutional questions over how this would impact on the swearing-in of the Speaker and Premier.
With the PACT now having a clear majority of 12 seats to seven for the Progressives and Independents Alliance, that constitutional hurdle has now been cleared.
Six ministerial assignments are reported to have already been made in the PACT team. However no specific ministerial portfolios were listed for Wayne Panton and Chris Saunders other than Premier and Deputy Premier respectively.
With O’Connor-Connolly now reported to be offered a ministerial post, it’s left to be seen how the ministries will be reshuffled or otherwise reassigned.