The United Democratic Party launched a series of public meetings across the Cayman Islands Monday night with a rally in West Bay in which Premier McKeeva Bush and other members urged their supporters to vote no in next week’s one man one vote referendum.
With the campaign song Brotherhood of Man’s United We Stand blaring from loudspeakers prior to the start of the meeting, about 250 people gathered at the four-way stop to listen to Premier Bush and other UDP members put forward their arguments against the referendum.
Mr. Bush, who shared the podium with the other eight UDP Members of the Legislative Assembly, argued that the current electoral system – multi member constituencies with a first-past-the-post voting – had been in existence in Cayman for 180 years and was “not broken”, so did not need to be changed.
He pointed out that the traditional 80 per cent turnout of voters in Cayman was high compared to many other countries and was an indication that the current electoral system worked well and was supported by the people of Cayman.
The premier accused proponents of the yes vote of having political motives for campaigning for the one man one vote system, saying they could not get elected under the existing system so wanted a different system, with smaller constituencies, which may give them a better chance of being elected.
West Bay MLA and Minister of Education Rolston Anglin said the fact that in the last three elections, the electorate had voted for a change of government also showed that the current system worked effectively. “Is that not a strong democracy?” he asked.
Responding to criticisms that the government was urging people to vote against a referendum which the government itself had initiated, Mr. Anglin said it was standard practice in jurisdictions that hold referendums for the government to take a stance on the issue being considered.
Fellow West Bay MLAs Captain Eugene Ebanks and Cline Glidden also spoke from the podium during the almost three-hour long meeting.
Further “No Vote” meetings will be held over the next week, with another meeting on Thursday night, 12 July, in East End; Saturday, 14 July in Cayman Brac; Monday, 16 July in Bodden Town; and Tuesday, 17 July, in George Town.
There will also be a debate hosted by Generation Now at the Harquail Theatre at 7pm on Thursday night, 12 July.
For more on this story, read Wednesday’s Caymanian Compass.