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Politics of the Cayman Islands

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. Although still a British Crown Colony, the islands toady are self-governed in nearly all respects. The constitution, or Cayman Islands Order, that now governs the islands came into effect in 1972 and was amended in 1984.

The Cayman Islands' political system is very stable, bolstered by a tradition of restrained civil governance, sustained economic prosperity, and its relative isolation from foreign policy concerns by virtue of its colonial relationship 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.

Government Structure
The British Crown appoints a Governor of the Cayman Islands, who is recruited from the U.K. government service and serves as the British representative. Daily administration of the islands is conducted by the seven-member Executive Council.

The chief secretary, financial secretary, and attorney general are appointed by the governor. Responsibility for defense and foreign affairs resides with the United Kingdom; however, the chief secretary has the portfolio for External Affairs, and the Cayman Government may negotiate certain bilateral matters directly with foreign governments. The remaining our members of the Executive Council are elected by the Assembly and divide the remaining administrative portfolios.

The 18-seat unicameral Legislative Assembly is composed is presided over by an independent speaker. Elections are held at the discretion of the governor at least every 4 years. Members of the assembly may introduce bills which, if passed, are then approved, returned, or disallowed by the governor. The U.K. Government also reserves the right to disallow bills approved by the governor.

The four-tiered judicial system is based on English common law and 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.

Political Coalitions
Political parties have operated infrequently in the past, and public officeholders tend to be independents. Since the 1970s, groups of candidates have organized themselves into ad hoc coalitions called teams and run on platforms of shared concerns. In November 2000 elections, voters ousted the leader of the government and two other ministers because of legislation enacted to weaken bank secrecy. Seven new members were elected to the Legislative Assembly.

Country name:
conventional long form: none
conventional short form: Cayman Islands

Data code: CJ

Dependency status: overseas territory of the United Kingdom

Government type: British crown colony

Capital: George Town[?]

Administrative divisions: 8 districts; Creek, Eastern, Midland, South Town, Spot Bay, Stake Bay, West End, Western

Independence: none (overseas territory of the UK)

National holiday: Constitution Day[?] (first Monday in July)

Constitution: 1959, revised 1972 and 1992

Legal system: British common law and local statutes

Suffrage: 18 years of age; universal

Executive branch:
chief of state: Queen Elizabeth II (since 6 February 1952)
head of government: Governor and President of the Executive Council Peter Smith[?] (since 5 May 1999)
cabinet: Executive Council (three members appointed by the governor, four members elected by the Legislative Assembly)
elections: none; the monarch is hereditary; the governor is appointed by the monarch

Legislative branch: unicameral Legislative Assembly (18 seats, three official members and 15 elected by popular vote; members serve four-year terms)
elections: last held 20 November 1996 (next to be held NA November 2000)
election results: percent of vote - NA; seats - National Team coalition 9, independents 6

Judicial branch: Summary Court; Grand Court; Cayman Islands Court of Appeal

Political parties and leaders: no formal political parties
note: the National Team, an organization formed in 1992 to oppose some proposals in the constitutional draft, continues to exert legislative power

International organization participation: Caricom (observer), CDB[?], Interpol (subbureau), IOC

Flag description: blue, with the flag of the UK in the upper hoist-side quadrant and the Caymanian coat of arms on a white disk centered on the outer half of the flag; the coat of arms includes a pineapple and turtle above a shield with three stars (representing the three islands) and a scroll at the bottom bearing the motto HE HATH FOUNDED IT UPON THE SEAS

See also : Cayman Islands



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