Single-member constituencies

Part 1 -The Proposed Cayman Islands Model

During the past several months, the issue of single-member constituencies was discussed amongst all three islands.

During the past several months, the issue of single-member constituencies was discussed amongst all three islands.

Many views were expressed and there was a general call for further information on the issue.

I encourage this public discussion to continue, so that everyone may continue to weigh in on the issue up until the referendum.

Therefore, over the next few weeks look out for an informative poster produced by the Secretariat, which will hopefully be available through our local newspapers.

Single-member constituencies are used in many democracies, particularly Commonwealth countries.

Often, the system is called the first past the post electoral system.

The name first past the post refers to horse racing, where the sole winner is simply the first horse to pass the post. With elections, however, the winner is the candidate who has received the most votes.

In contrast to single-member constituency, the phrase single-member plurality means a two-party system. Otherwise, it is just the same as a single-member constituency – the winner for each party is the candidate who receives the most votes.

By adopting a single-member constituency in the Cayman Islands, government proposes that the Islands be divided into 16 constituencies. On Grand Cayman there will be 15 constituencies and Cayman Brac and Little Cayman will form the 16th constituency.

Government proposes that Cayman Brac and Little Cayman become one constituency in order to preserve the ties between the islands, because of their distance from Grand Cayman; their existing cultural and political connection with each other; and the potentially negative effects of dividing an already small community.

These 16 constituencies would be one less than the 17 recommended in the present constitution.

Government proposes that on Grand Cayman, voters in each of the 15 constituencies will elect one single Member of Parliament. Each voter will cast one ballot, for the candidate of their choice.

In the constituency for Cayman Brac and Little Cayman, each voter will also elect one single member to Parliament (as will be done in Grand Cayman), in order to preserve democratic equality amongst voters in all three islands.

However, the Sister Islands already elect one member to Parliament.

Government proposes that under the single-member constituency system, the first two candidates past the post in the Sister Islands be elected to Parliament.

The decision whether to remain under the present electoral system or to move to a single-member constituency is a decision that we as Caymanians have to make for ourselves and each other. Whilst the views on this issue vary, at the end of the day we are making a decision for the country as a whole, and it is expected that members will be able to weigh in on this specific issue on polling day.

Next week, for part two of this discussion, I will explain the traditionally identifiable pros and cons of single-member constituencies. In part three, I’ll talk about how the Boundaries Commission arrived at the constituency boundaries they produced in their report to the Governor in 2003.

Let’s Shape Our Future Together!