Today’s Editorial for November 20: Constitution consternation

Two weeks ago, Cayman celebrated a new constitution coming into effect.

By all accounts, it should have been a time of celebration. Few people disagreed that the Cayman Islands needed constitutional advancement, although there were plenty of different views on what should or should not have been included in the constitution – particularly with regard to the bill of rights.

It is therefore dismaying to see the results of the most recent caycompass.com online poll, which asked respondents how they thought the new constitution would affect their lives.

Shockingly, despite the fact that voters overwhelmingly approved the new constitution in the country’s first referendum in May, less than 15 per cent of the poll respondents thought the new Constitution would make their lives better, while 16.5 per cent thought it would make their lives worse.

Even more astounding was the fact that a little more than a quarter of the respondents didn’t think the new Constitution would have any effect at all on their lives, while nearly 30 per cent said they had no idea how the it would affect their lives.

What those results probably indicate is what we have feared all along: most people have little understanding of the new Constitution.

Be that as it may, the Cayman Islands, for better or worse, is now pretty much stuck with this constitution. It can be changed through a voting process, but the truth is changes will be virtually impossible because of the high threshold of approval needed in a voting process to make changes.

The government is continuing its education programme designed to help people understand the new constitution.

Now that the constitution has been separated from any possible political party affiliation – after all, as supreme law of the land it applies to everyone – it is time for Cayman residents to try to understand the constitution and what it could actually mean to them. To start with, visit www.constitution.gov.ky to view the Constitution Guide 2009 online.

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