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Brief Political History and Dynamics of the Cayman Islands

The politics of the Cayman Islands takes place within a framework of parliamentary democracy, within the confines of the Government of the Cayman Islands.

Elections of the 1980s

In the late 1980s, Cayman politics was relatively calm. The Caymans had no officially recognized political parties; elections for the twelve elective seats in the Legislative Assembly were contested by "teams" of candidates, as well as by independents. The teams showed no differences in policy or ideology. All candidates traditionally pledged to work for continued economic success and for continued dependent status. In the November 1980 elections the Unity Team, led by Jim Bodden, won eight of the twelve seats. The Dignity Team, headed by Benson Ebanks, won two seats, and two went to independents. The Dignity Team later fell apart when one of its two legislators joined the Unity Team.

Elections were held again in November 1984 against a backdrop of dissatisfaction with Bodden's Unity Team. Many voters felt it was time for a change; public disquiet had grown over the rapid rise in the immigrant work force. Criticism was voiced that Bodden and his government should have moved more quickly to preserve the good name of the colony and its financial services when the United States alleged that Cayman banks had been used to launder illegal drug monies. Independents captured nine seats in the election, but the other three remained in the hands of the Dignity Team; Ebanks became chief minister. Despite the change in leadership, continued economic prosperity helped to maintain political stability in the territory.

Elections of the 1980s

The National Team won 12 of 15 elective seats at the General Election of 11 November 1992. The National Team remain in office following the 20 November 1996 General Election, winning nine seats in the Legislative Assembly. In the 1996 election, two new groupings, the Democratic Alliance and Team Cayman, secure two seats and one seat respectively, with the remaining three seats going to independents..

Emergence of Political Parties

The Cayman Islands did not have formal political parties for many years; instead, so-called “national teams” made up of nominally independent politicians ran in elections. The Progressive Democratic Party (formed in 1991) was the first political organization to take shape since the 1960s; in 1996 two other groups, the Democratic Alliance and Team Cayman, emerged. Two formal parties, the United Democratic Party (UDP) and the People’s Progressive Movement (PPM), were established in 2001 and 2002, respectively. Currently, there are only two established political parties: the Cayman Democratic Party (CDP, formerly the UDP) led by McKeeva Bush and the PPM (or Progressives) led by Alden McLaughlin. 

2000 General Election

The 8 November 2000 General Election saw the ruling National Team under Truman Bodden suffer a heavy defeat, with Bodden, the leader of government and planning minister, losing his seat. In all, seven new legislators were elected, and eight incumbents held on to their seats. Five incumbents were defeated, and two retired.

2005 General Election

In the 11 May 2005 General Election, the opposition People's Progressive Movement (PPM) led by Kurt Tibbets picked up nine seats in the Cayman Islands legislature in the general election, defeating the ruling McKeva Bush-led United Democratic Party (UDP) which got five seats. One seat went to an independent candidate Moses Kirkconnell who announced that he would join the PPM immediately after the elections.

2009 General Election

In the 10 May 2009 General Election, the opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) defeated the incumbent People's Progressive Movement (PPM). the UDP swept into power with nine seats and one pro-UDP independent candidate being elected. The People's Progressive Movement became the Opposition party with five seats. 

2013 General Election

In the 22 May 2013 General Election, the opposition Progressives more than doubled their seat count to nine, bringing them one seat short of an overall majority. The opposition United Democratic Party (UDP) lost 1 seat but was down 6 from their 2009 result. 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.

2017 General Election

In the 24 May 2017 General Election, The People's Progressive Movement remained the largest party, winning seven of the 19 seats. However, independents emerged as the largest group in the Legislative Assembly with nine seats.

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Key
CDP = Cayman Democratic Party; PPM = People's Progressive Movement; IND = Inpendent candidate; * Incumbent; ** Political Leader
Sources
Cayman Islands Elections Office
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