Today’s Editorial March 02: Election time nears

There are now less than 12 weeks before the next general elections.

Several candidates have already announced they will seek office and dozens more will likely do so between now and Nomination Day in three weeks.

Although some candidates have already begun advertising, and at least one prospective candidate has signs up already, the campaign trail really gets under way this week with some political public meetings.

With all the challenges, both local and international, facing the Cayman Islands, the next government will likely face a difficult set of issues.

There is the issue of the global economic slowdown and how Cayman survives it; there is an issue about the threat against offshore financial centres; there is an issue concerning waning cruise tourism; there is an issue about the plan to redevelop the cruise ship and cargo ports; there is an issue about how Cayman should move forward with development; and there is an issue with the police and judiciary seemingly being in a state of turmoil.

Then there is an issue over balancing the needs of Caymanians with the needs to import talented labour that will keep this country competitive in a globalised world.

There’s also the issue about whether building $200 million worth of new schools is really going to produce properly educated Caymanians who can fill the staffing needs of employers here.

For those and other reasons, the choices voters make in May will likely have long-felt effects for this country.

So too will the choice voters make concerning the referendum. On one hand, there is very little debate that Cayman needs a more efficient way of governing than is afforded by its current constitutional arrangement with the United Kingdom.

On the other hand, there has been a significant compromise, based primarily on the wishes of Cayman’s clergy, with regard to the bill of rights in the constitution. As a result, voters will be asked to weigh the importance of advancing the administrative aspects of Cayman’s relationship with the UK with the ramifications of being stuck with a bill of rights that offers everyone, including all Caymanians, only ‘half a loaf’.

Given the enormity of the implications, voters will face no easy task when they enter the polling stations on 20 May. That is why it is vital for those eligible to vote in the next election and in the referendum do everything they can to learn and understand the choices they’ll be presented with.

In a democracy, voting should be considered a civic duty. But voting without any knowledge of what one is voting for – or against – can be more dangerous than not voting at all.

We implore all eligible voters to spend the next 80 days learning everything they can about the issues and the choices they will have at the polls.

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