‘One man’ takes centre stage

The debate surrounding the “one man, one vote” referendum took centre stage at the Harquail Theatre late last week with all panel members agreeing on one issue.  

“One man, one vote”, when applied with single-member voting districts, will cement the existence of a two party political system in the Cayman Islands. The five panellists in the Generation Now debate held Thursday evening expressed that view in varying degrees.  

Panel members included supporters of the “one man, one vote” system in North Side Member of the Legislative Assembly Ezzard Miller, People’s Progressive Movement candidate Wayne Panton and Chamber of Commerce President David Kirkaldy. There were also opponents of the “one man, one vote” system, namely United Democratic Party Cabinet Minister Rolston Anglin and George 
Town MLA Ellio Solomon.  

The overall consensus from the panel was that, after an initial shake up of the political parties, the two party system would no doubt be solidified in the Cayman Islands. 

“People are saying they don’t want this kind of divide, as it only further promotes two parties, which people are already not fond of,” said Mr. Solomon, whose remarks were echoed by Mr. Kirkaldy.  

Mr. Miller explained: “It’s not about parties, but one vote and responsibility.” Mr. Miller did point out that in his view there would be an initial shake up of the party landscape. 

As the debate progressed, Mr. Solomon said under the proposed change to single-member voting districts, often referred to as single-member constituencies, candidates would need less of the vote in a district to get into the Legislative Assembly. He said this could be dangerous because “there is inherent intelligence in the mass of the people,” adding that individuals could win an election simply because they have family in the constituency. 

Mr. Kirkaldy said it was the Chamber of Commerce’s view that single-member constituencies would “… free members to state their positions on all issues,” meaning greater accountability as opposed to simply taking a political party’s position.  

Both Mr. Anglin and Mr. Solomon argued that the current style of government in the Cayman Islands was more suitable than what is being proposed in the referendum. Mr. Anglin said that, in his view, single-member constituencies were designed for larger countries and jurisdictions. 

“We need something designed for Cayman and not something that will further divide us,” he said. 

A question posed directly to Mr. Solomon about his feelings toward a national vote for candidates and for premier was met with a degree of agreement by the member for George Town, who said he felt such a system would be a better option than what is now being touted. He joked that a national vote ballot “would probably look like a Friday issue of the Caymanian Compass in size”.  

Mr. Anglin said a national vote could not be considered because there had been no discussion before bringing the “one man, one vote” proposition to the public and therefore no opportunity to explore all of the options. 

Mr. Panton told the audience that the initial draft of the 2009 constitution included single-member voting districts. However, he said it was negotiated out by the United Democratic Party, as the People’s Progressive Movement were seeking a bipartisan progression, “… which was probably a mistake”, he said.  

Mr. Anglin argued that, with the current population breakdown of Grand Cayman, “George Town has 50 per cent of Cayman’s population and this justifies the seats. Stop the cute semantics. This is about devising a system where the least amount of votes can still get someone elected. This is about small special interest groups having an advantage, where spoiler candidates can alter an election.” 



  1. The question is simply – Will one man one vote provide a system of more accountability (leading to less corruption).

    If yes than I know how I will vote!

  2. 4 Cayman,

    systems are never corrupt, its people, the individual!

    Sorry to disappoint you but the OMOV will not bring accountability, you should know that.

  3. I heard a caller aspiring to be a politician on Radio Cayman Talk Today questioning the equality of voting between George Town a larger district with thousands of voters and East End with a few hundred!

    Why are we talking OMOV if even politicians do not understand the current system!
    God help us all, why force us to promote you to 2nd grade when you have’nt even passed lst grade?

    How can someone run for office and do not even understand that a large district needs more representatives than a tiny little district?




  4. The problem is that there are too many people that don’t understand the OMOV concept in it’s entirety…and no one has been able to explain the concept in any way that makes sense…so when some people do indeed head to the polls (completely sober, I might add) they will more than likely ask the person next to them how ya voting? and make a solid, informed decision that way…

    Go democracy!!!!

  5. @Liverpool
    That does not explain why voters in GT should have 6 votes and control 1/3 of the legislative assembly.
    The national vote mantra is just a distraction. Nobody really wants that but it is convenient to introduce it to confuse voters for Wednesday. If the referendum fails so will all talk of a national vote.

    @Just Canadian. Perhaps you should explain it to us seeing that Canada has plenty of experience with it.

  6. Although I am not Caymanian and will not be able to Vote, I have been following this whole bonanza. From what I see the voting will mostly be the people who support the Premier voting No and those who don’t will vote yes just to show that they do not support Mac. I read plenty of comments on various newspapers as well the ones I consider Tabloids and its incredible to see people saying things like show Bush who’s in charge by voting yes to OMOV or stop the West Bay road move by Voting Yes, I’ve even read people saying Dart owns too much land we need to vote yes to OMOV to stop him from destroying our island or there’s to many expats here vote yes and there will be more Caymanians employed.

    The people that seem to be seriously considering what it will mean seem to be few and far in between where the majority seem to be just listening to propaganda. A lot of people are going be disappointed with the outcome and their expectations are not met after all the promises and claims that have been made just to sway people one way or the other.

    I personally think this whole thing was started as one man’s opportunistic way of garnering support to boost his political career and a lot of people jumped on the band wagon because they are not happy with the current economic state.

    But that’s what Politicians do best

    Good luck Cayman, I hope the outcome is a positive one.

  7. NJ2Cay,

    I agree that a few people (not the OMOV group) are making fantastic claims for OMOV. However, that does not change the clear merits of OMOV as articulated by the OMOV group. I see that you have also avoided criticising the ridiculous anti-expat rhetoric of the anti-OMOV campaigners and saying whether or not you think OMOV is a good thing. Is that because you support the premier and so it is not politically expedient to do so? Does OMOV only exist in YOUR country because of the political ambitions of one politician, or are you being disingenuous about the issue?
    So far as I am aware the movers of the petition are both MLAs in existing single member districts. I fail to see what political benefit it brings to them.

  8. Speaker, The only thing I think made since about the anti OMOV expat claims is that it is possible that it can break communities up in to areas controlled by certain demographics of people. We see that a lot in the US. I don’t specifically support the UDP nor not support the PPM since I am not in a position of offer support for either not being part of the voting populous. However I do recognize the UDP as the current governing party and respect that they are in charge right now and the ones making the decisions. I would have the same respect for the PPM if and when they are in charge.

    As far as the OMOV vote idea, In my opinion I believe that every district should have the same amount of representation, however I don’t think that all the power should go to one only person. I would probably prefer 2 people for each district 1 being UDP and 1 PPM possibly 3 with an Independent that has no party affiliation. Imagine how it would be if everyone had to vote for one person from each party in their district, they might be forced to work together in the best interest of the community.

    Buy that is only my opinion as someone on the outside looking in.

  9. NJ2cay,

    Here is an example of anti-expat rhetoric in case you missed it:

    People who have lived or live where one man one vote system is implemented have horror stories to tell Caymanians about how Foreigners have taken over their electoral boundaries because they outnumber the locals and push them out of the state or even their own city where they were born or raised. Ezzard, nor Arden are in a position to push this dangerous OMOV down their throats. Neither is Austin nor Gilbert qualified to push it down your throat. The foreign journalists and the Chamber are on board because this is the non-Caymanians dream come through. Gordon Barlow that is famous for name calling Caymanians Stupid Idiots may indeed become the first Expat Premier if Caymanians are blindsided by Ezzard Arden and Wayne Panton on this dangerous voting system. You will regret it as you lose political power to Expats!

    Obviously this is nonsense since expats don’t have the right to vote or run for office in Cayman and it is impossible for Gordon Barlow to become premier under our constitution. OMOV cannot change that. OMOV cannot give any expats the power to push Caymanians out of Cayman. I have read your comments elsewhere and when it suits you you are very quick to accuse Caymanians of xenophobia while here you ignore real xenophobia when it is politically convenient.

    Do you see OMOV in your own country as dangerous?

    Are you seriously suggesting that because a govt. is in currently in power and making the decisions that we should agree with all they do and have nothing to say while they are in office and allow them to destroy the country? I cannot believe that you would take such a passive approach in your own country.

    Would you also advocate such an electoral system for your own country or is it just for Cayman?

    Your double standards are all showing.

  10. Speaker, it may be rhetoric and may not end up the same way in Cayman. But there are quite a bit of Communities in the US that are controlled by foreigners. Where most of the statesmen are of the same descent. It wouldn’t really be an impossibility for certain demographics of people to segregate themselves into certain areas that they can control and then start expanding that area. However I am not sure if OMOV will make this easier or not, only time will tell if it is indeed voted in, if not the PPM says they plan on enacting it anyway so it seems that it eventually will be a reality anyway, which is why I don’t really understand why it had to be done now in lieu of during the next election which would have put a lot less strain on a budget that’s already stretched to the limit if not past it.

    One thing that people need to realize is that even though expats cannot vote, you’d be surprised how much influence a large group of people can have on the outcome of elections even if they do not vote, especially if the majority of the people in their little area are of the same nationality and even worse it they are willing to put money into the right pockets. So I wouldn’t dismiss them so easily.

    I never suggested that people should sit by and allow a government to destroy a country as you suggest. But I really don’t think that OMOV is the answer to all your problems as some people seem to think. As for what I advocate in my own country, all US States currently have the same amount of representation in the Senate, there are 2 Senators from each US State regardless of the population which I think is fair.

    Another thing I’d like to point out is that I do not see or hear everyone in Cayman saying that the current government is destroying Cayman some people seem to like what they are doing or trying to do. Most of the complaints I hear are from people that support the opposition, I don’t think this would be any different if the PPM were in charge. It would then most likely be UDP Supporters saying that the PPM is destroying the Island. On any account the next election is just around the corner and the results of that will be the only way to tell what the majority think. It would be interesting to see what the PPM does differently if they have the reigns next time around.

    Speaker, you have to realize that I am only an observer in these situations and my comments are just opinions based on what I see and hear from people I talk to locally. I write what’s on and speak my mind without hesitation which is my right as well as anyone elses. If some of the opinions I formulate are incorrect I welcome and appreciate people that are able to set me straight with the facts.

  11. Speaker:

    You seem to be in total denial of all that N2CAY is saying. All these threats to Caymanians political freedoms has been discussed in other forums and on radio and are proven to be correct and true.
    Yes Miami Florida is controlled by Cubans, and Haitians and Americans are pushed aside, run out of the city and State seeking employment because of foreigners taking over their electoral boundaries!


    Intelligent people do not debate the facts!

    Sorry but we’re on to you…..

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