Door left open for early referendum

The
ruling United Democratic Party government announced earlier this year that it
would hold a referendum in May 2013 on the issue of how Cayman Islands voters
should choose their elected representatives.  

However,
a member of the UDP on Thursday night left the door slightly ajar on the
question of whether that public decision on the ‘one man, one vote’ concept
might not be held earlier.  

“At
this stage, the government has made a….commitment and said that we will have a
referendum at the [general] election in 2013,” said West Bay MLA Cline Glidden,
Jr. “If the government can be so convinced to have it before and that it can
afford to prioritise and use the money that is being used for something else to
be used for that, then its possible.” 

A
petition seeking to hold a public referendum prior to the May 2013 general
elections has gathered an estimated 3,000 signatures, according to organisers.
That petition – which is expected to go to Cabinet members by 30 April – seeks
to hold a public vote on the matter no later than 30 November. 

According
to the Cayman Islands Constitution, a petition with signatures of 25 per cent
of the current registered voters – somewhere around 3,700 or 3,800 people
currently – can force government to hold a referendum on the topic. However, it
cannot force a government to hold that vote on a specific date. 

“The
petition…has shown me that there is enough of an interest that we need to have
a referendum,” Mr. Glidden said. 

The
West Bay MLA’s comments came during a Thursday night forum held to debate the
‘one man, one vote’ issue. The non-profit group Generation Now hosted the
event. 

Premier
McKeeva Bush said he was unable to attend the gathering and sent Mr. Glidden as
his representative. The other four representatives on the Generation Now debate
panel; Opposition Leader Alden McLaughlin, North Side MLA Ezzard Miller,
Electoral Boundary Commission member Adrianne Webb and “concerned citizen”
Richard Arch, all said they support the ‘one man, one vote’ concept. 

Mr.
Glidden said he would “listen to the voters” on the issue and be guided by
their decision. However, he also told one questioner from the audience that –
even if the ‘one man’ petition did receive 25 per cent voter signatures – that
would not represent a majority of voters. 

For
a referendum to be successful, it must pass with 50 per cent plus one vote of
all electors in the Cayman Islands. The number of registered voters in Cayman
was roughly 15,300 at the start of the year.  That means some 7,600 people would have to vote ‘yes’ on a
referendum question for it to pass…no matter how many people showed up at the
polls. If only 10,000 people showed up to vote, the measure would then have to
pass with 76 per cent voter support. 

Mr.
Miller, one of two sponsors of the petition, said he would not trust “politicians”
promises regarding the holding of a public referendum on an issue he said
successive governments have avoided since 1972. 

“I
would caution you the people to rely on politicians to change the current
system,” Mr. Miller said. “The referendum….is the only how its going to happen.” 

Mr.
McLaughlin said it would be simple enough for the current government to change
the law to allow for single member constituencies, if it wished – without the
benefit of a referendum. 

“They
don’t need to wait on the trigger being pulled by a referendum, they can do it
at anytime,” he said. 

Mr.
Glidden said he’s not convinced there is a majority of public support for the
measure. 

“It’s
up to the populace to decide,” he said. “The government has committed to
holding a referendum on the issue. If the majority of the populace decides,
then we will have single member constituencies.” 

 

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3 COMMENTS

  1. Although my opinion most likely doesn’t matter I will offer it anyway, just in case someone wants to hear it. I do think the current representation of each district is unfair to the smaller districts. However the idea on one person representing each constituency sounds like it will just open up a different can of worms. I would think the push would be for every district to have the same representation no matter how big or how small. Cayman may be a lot better off if there were two or three representatives for each district that would discuss issues and agree on what’s best for the district before going into the LA, just one person per district leaves it open for favoritism of people who share their views, two heads are better than one and it may even be worthwhile to have 1 PPM , 1 UDP and one independent elected for each district so they will have to put their heads together for what’s in the best interest of their district.

    Cayman is dangerously separated right now and needs to find a way to come together.

    United we standDivided we fall..

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