Politics of the Cayman Islands: Wikis

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Cayman Islands

This article is part of the series:
Politics and government of
the Cayman Islands



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Politics of the Cayman Islands takes place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic overseas territory, whereby the Premier is the head of government, and of a two-party system. Executive power is exercised by the government. Legislative power is vested in both the government and the Legislative Assembly. The Judiciary is independent of the executive and the legislature.

The Cayman Islands' physical isolation under early British colonial rule allowed the development of an indigenous set of administrative and legal traditions which were codified into a constitution in 1959. A new modern constitution, which devolved some authority from the United Kingdom to the Cayman Islands government, was passed by referendum on 20 May 2009. Subsequently, the islands are now largely self-governing.

The Cayman Islands' political system is very stable, bolstered by a tradition of restrained civil governance with the United Kingdom. Public discussion revolves around public sector expenditure and social services, the pace of additional economic development, and the status of the large foreign national community on the islands.

Contents

Constitutional Modernisation

Constitutional Modernisation has come to the forefront of politics recently with the collapse of the now defunct Euro Bank Corporation in 2003. The prosecution in the trial was forced to reveal that the British Government had planted moles (and used wire taps) throughout the banking industry using MI6, at the consent of the Governor. This caused the trial's collapse, and subsequent release of those charged with wrongdoing. Along with this, the only mole that was known at the time was allowed to leave the country, never to answer for what he (or the United Kingdom) was doing. This infuriated the elected members of the Legislative Assembly as they maintained that the Governor and the United Kingdom had put into question the Cayman Islands' reputation as a tightly regulated offshore jurisdiction. Some saw this as the United Kingdom meddling in the territory's affairs to benefit itself (and the EU), at the expense of the islands' economy.

Constitutional talks however went on hold following Hurricane Ivan in 2004. Subsequently in May 2005 the ruling UDP was ousted by the PPM, which restarted the process of constitutional modernisation. The new constitution took effect on the 6th November 2009.

Executive branch

Main office holders
Office Name Party Since
HE The Governor and President of the Cabinet Duncan Taylor 15 January, 2010
Hon. Premier McKeeva Bush UDP 6 November, 2009

The Cabinet is appointed by the Governor on advice of the Premier. The British Crown appoints a Governor, who is recruited from the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office and serves as the British representative, including his role as the direct representative of Queen Elizabeth II. Daily administration of the islands is conducted by the Cabinet. The Deputy Governor, and Attorney General are appointed by the Governor. Responsibility for defence and foreign affairs resides with the United Kingdom; however, the Deputy Governor handles the portfolio for External Affairs, and the Cayman Islands Government may negotiate certain bilateral matters directly with foreign governments.

The Governor can exercise complete executive authority if he wishes through reserve powers reserved to him in the Constitution. However, he must consult with the Premier prior to using such powers and must do so in the interest of the Cayman Islands (so long as it doesn't prejudice British interests). He must give royal assent to all legislation, which allows him the power to strike down any law the legislature may see fit for the country. In modern times, the Governor usually allows the country to be run by the cabinet, and the civil service to be run by the Deputy Governor, who is the Acting Governor when the Governor is not able to discharge his usual duties for one reason or another. The current Governor of the Cayman Islands is Duncan Taylor and the current Deputy Governor is Donovan Ebanks.

Legislative branch

The Legislative Assembly building in George Town

The unicameral Legislative Assembly of the Cayman Islands is presided over by an independent speaker. The Legislative Assembly has 18 elected members. Elections are held at the discretion of the Governor at least every 4 years. Members of the Legislative Assembly may introduce bills which, if passed, are then approved, returned, or disallowed by the Governor. The UK Government also reserves the right to disallow bills approved by the Governor. The Premier is limited to two consecutive terms, after which the individual who was Premier for two terms must sit out a term before being constitutionally eligible to be Premier again.

Judicial branch

The four-tiered judicial system is based on English common law, colonial and local statutes. The Cayman Islands Court of Appeal is the highest court on the Islands, but a final appeal may be heard by Her Majesty's Privy Council sitting in London. The Chief Justice has his seat in the Grand Court, below The Court of Appeal. The current Chief Justice is Hon. Anthony Smellie QC, JP.

Administrative divisions

Districts: George Town, Bodden Town, West Bay, North Side, East End, Sister Islands (Cayman Brac and Little Cayman)

International organisation participation

Caricom (associate), CDB, Interpol (subbureau), IOC

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