Editorial for 11 June: OMOV: Panacea or Pandora’s Box?

 In last Friday’s newspaper, reader Rudy Shellbun wrote a letter examining the proposition of Cayman adopting single-member constituencies, often referred to as “one man, one vote”.

Most of the arguments to date for “one man, one vote” have centred around generalities and platitudes such as “it’s more democratic” or “it holds politicians more accountable”. Conversely, the arguments against “one man, one vote” have centred on fear and dire predictions that it will create “garrison politics”.

Many of those who support “one man, one vote” think its implementation will accomplish one of two things: Either it will end the United Democratic Party’s dominance in West Bay or it will decrease the strength of Cayman’s political parties, paving the way for more independent members in the Legislative Assembly.

The arguments on both sides of the issue have tended to be based more on political allegiance and emotion rather than thoughtful analysis. Neither the advocates nor opponents have adequately explained the pros and cons of this very important issue.

Mr. Shellbun attempted to look at the issue analytically. He urged Cayman voters to educate themselves on “one man, one vote”. He cited books and websites on the issue and asked some very pointed questions about what “one man, one vote” might mean for the territory. He suggested the issue is more complicated than is being portrayed and that “one man, one vote” could open a Pandora’s Box of unintended and unwanted consequences.

Much the same could be said of Cayman’s new Constitution, which was passed into law after a referendum in May 2009. Few people at the time really seemed to understand all of the implications of what was being proposed in the Constitution, but based on political rhetoric, a couple of hot-button topics and some persuasion from the clergy, a landslide of people approved the document. Many regret their vote now.

“One man, one vote” might be great or it might be terrible for the Cayman Islands. The time to determine that question is before the referendum next month, not afterward, and we urge voters to put emotion and political allegiance aside and learn what the consequences of “one man, one vote” might be.


  1. Why don’t you grow a spine and take a position on this? It is not complicated, only the opponents say this to try and defeat it. Cayman has garrison politics NOW. Does the Compass oppose it?

  2. The comment below is a perfect example of what http://www.caycompass.com is trying to address with this editorial. The stance of oh, just hurry up and take a position on it already is what the newspaper fears will land the country in trouble with regard to ‘one man, one vote’. There is not nearly enough known about the practical effects of this issue, if it is passed. More facts are needed, not political rhetoric. Sadly, the latter is about all the public has received to date and it is a far more complex issue that the commenter would have the public believe.

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