In response to your editorial of 25 June, 2012, where you continue to pretend to support the one man one vote initiative now that it has gained enough popularity to force the UDP Government to hijack the process and call an early referendum on 18 July, 2012, please allow me space to answer your questions.
Your editorial, like the UDP Government and the opponents of one man one vote, continue to drag red herrings across the discussion to distract and confuse, by making suggestions for change that cannot be accomplished by the one man one vote initiative, such as a national vote, recall and the requirement for representatives to live in the constituency they wish to representative. Let me try to answer your questions.
Should all 18 district contain an equal number of electors? Yes, as far as practical, given natural boundaries like roads and this is arrived at by dividing the total number of electors by the number of seats to determine what the maximum number should be. The Electoral Boundaries Commission, established under the provisions of the current Cayman Islands Constitution, did a very good job of this while complying with the constitutional provision of respecting existing district boundaries and the constitutional requirement that Cayman Brac and Little Cayman always have two representatives.
Is the system fair if they do not? Not a legitimate question if you take the time to read the EBC report as they are very close to equal given that North Side and East End already have one representative and the EBC respected the existing district boundaries. Cayman Brac and Little Cayman have two representatives as provided in the constitution. The equality is not in the number that one represents as this would in most cases be impossible using natural boundaries; rather the equality is based on how electors influence who represents them and that is one man one vote.
Should candidates have to live in the district they represent? Currently this not a requirement of the constitution and the Elections Law. Such changes are beyond the scope of one man one vote. This was widely discussed in the many years leading up to the approval of the current constitution. The decision was taken to allow the representative to reside anywhere in the Cayman Islands, but to qualify as a candidate, the person must be nominated by two electors living in that district. This is not a question one man one vote should be expected to correct.
Recall measures for candidates.Again this matter was discussed and not accepted by the framers of the current constitution and is outside the remit of the one man one vote. Such a provision would require a specific amendment to the current constitution whatever voting system is in place multiple voting or one man one vote. Not a question one man one vote should be expected to correct.
Term limits This matter also received much discussion during the development of the current constitution and term limits was placed on the Premier – limited to two terms. True democracy – people’s choice – does not afford the placing of limits on the people’s choice at the constituency level, electors should have the choice to elect who they believe can best represent them.
At large constituencies Again this matter has been addressed in the constitutional discussion and in most democracies they do not exist unless there is not the population base to support enough representatives from single member constituencies to do the work of government and maintain the authority of Parliament over the executive.
Who will look out for the good of the territory as a whole? All business of Parliament is national.. I have never been presented with a bill or motion for North Side so the business of the country is for all representatives in the Legislative Assembly. How do you propose to have those elected at large protect the country?
Should the Premier be elected by the entire territory? The current constitution directs that the premier is the leader of the political party with the majority of elected representatives being members of his party. If no political party has a clear majority ,then the person who the majority of elected representatives decide to support will be the premier. This would require a separate amendment of the current constitution and a radical departure from the Westminster system, which the UK has given us.
Even number of representatives. This is also outside the remit of one man one vote and while there is a probability of a hung parliament with even numbers from the two political parties being elected, it is not a likely possibility. This also requires an amendment to the current constitution . I personally see no need to increase the number from 15 to 18.
The one man one vote referendum can and will only address one issue: That of equality for all voters. The accepted international democratic method of managing one person one vote is single member constituencies. This then gives the voter a greater opportunity to influence government policies and to hold his representative accountable, but one man one vote will not guarantee it, the voter has to accept his responsibility to get involved.
The issues you raise to try and complicate the referendum all need to be addressed but as separate issues, maybe even in a people initiated referendum. In fact I would add another: To give the Legislative Assembly and/or the governor the ability to impeach any member for misconduct. I urge all persons to come out on 18 July and vote for one man one vote.
D. Ezzard Miller
MLA, North Side