Premier celebrates referendum defeat

McKeeva Bush and press secretary Charles Glidden after the final referendum results came in LEAD


The referendum’s low turnout of voters was an indication that electors are satisfied with the territory’s existing electoral system, Cayman Islands Premier McKeeva Bush said late Wednesday night after watching the final tally come in. 

Premier Bush, fellow United Democratic Party members of the Legislative Assembly and a group of about 50 supporters watched the results roll in on live television in the car lot at Alissta Towers in George Town. Speaking to the cheering crowd from a podium erected under a canopy tent, Mr. Bush said: “This was not an advisory referendum. We have acted in accordance with our constitution and so the result is binding. The referendum has failed.” 

According to the elections office, 8,118 people voted between 7am and 6pm Wednesday on the referendum, which asked voters: “Do you support an electoral system of single-member constituencies with each elector being entitled to cast only one vote?” A total of 5,631 voted yes, while 3,001 said no.  

All districts in the Cayman Islands, apart from West Bay, voted in favour of switching to single-member constituencies. Although the majority of those who voted opted to support single member constituency, the number of voters casting their support fell short of “magic number” of 7,582, which referendum required to pass. 

“The fact is that the … [one man, one vote system] proposers did not get the required amount to change our electoral system. Our constitution plainly says that on the basis on which we called the referendum, they would have to get 50 per cent plus one. They have not reached that,” Mr. Bush said, adding “They have done well.” 

He acknowledged the efforts of the “well-intentioned young Caymanians who started this movement, based on their beliefs. It is unfortunate that it was hijacked by political bosses so desperate to grasp power they will trample on anyone to get a platform.”  

Mr. Bush also criticised the Cayman Islands Chamber of Commerce for supporting the “one man, one vote” campaign, telling his supporters: “You’ve never seen a campaign carried out by a business organisation the way they carried out their campaign against the present electoral system.” 

He also levelled criticism at the opposition People’s Progressive Movement party and independent legislator Ezzard Miller for their roles in pushing the “one man, one vote” campaign, as well at members of the Generation Now organisation, whose members he described as “well intentioned, but misled”. 

Speaking to reporters after his speech, Mr. Bush said that 33 per cent of eligible voters in Cayman had voted to change the electoral system, but the other 67 per cent had either stayed at home or voted not. “They said ‘stay the course, don’t dismantle the system’.” 

He acknowledged that he would have liked to have seen more people cast no ballots, just as he had. 

“I voted ‘no’ and will forever be voting no against dismantling the system until it is proven to me that this is so bad we have to try something else.  

It’s not the system, it’s the people you elect,” he said. 

In his own constituency of West Bay, the only district to vote no in the referendum, the results were close, with 1,027 people voting “yes” and 1,053 voting “no” – a difference of just 26 votes. 

However, Mr. Bush said he was not surprised by the close call in West Bay because those results went “purely on party lines” and that many of his supporters had opted to stay at home or spend the public holiday with their families rather than voting in a referendum that they did not feel should have been held in the first place. 

The premier said the public holiday, which he said the opposition and the “one man, one vote” proponents called for, had cost the territory $7 million. 

Asked if he and his government would give any further consideration to introducing single-member constituencies, Mr. Bush responded: “No, I‘m not wasting anymore time on this – 15,000-odd people are eligible voters … 33 per cent came out and voted. The constitution says that’s not good enough and rightly so; we should not set the bar low to change the democratic way that we do things. Why should we?” 

McKeeva Bush and press secretary Charles Glidden after the final referendum results came in

Premier McKeeva Bush, right, with press secretary Charles Glidden, gets ready to address supporters after the final results of the referendum are announced. – PHOTO: NORMA CONNOLLY


  1. @Liverpool. You’re right. Refusing to re-open the register so new voters who wished to vote in the referendum could be added and retaining dead voters on the list was entirely transparent in its purpose.

  2. This man cheers the fact that he fought against the will of his people and WON.
    He won by using the money of the people to challenge and defeat them!
    It’s funny how the Sheep that follow him can’t see what is wrong with this!

  3. Befuddled…

    That’s where you’re wrong.

    They see it all right…in the money he used to buy their support.

    Haven’t you figured this thing out yet ?

    McKeeva Bush owns West Bay, bought and paid for.

    Where do you think Dart’s money has gone ?

  4. Nobody has any illusions as to who in is control in West Bay. Its Mac. Has been for the last 20 years.
    Every politician since the dawn of time has provided for his people. Is that vote buying or is that exactly what he is supposed to do?

    Every citizen in Cayman has the opportunity to further themselves using Government so stop using political affiliation as the be all end all. Every vote was and will be bought by promises to better the lives of the constituents. Every politician has a obligation to the people to do fulfill their promises. Is that vote buying too.

    Every government agency/office or scheme could be misconstrued as a vote buying setup. Want a house using your pension? Vote buying. Need help paying your mortgage? Vote buying. House falling apart? Vote buying. Need a scholarship? Vote buying. Need food? Vote buying. Need a stove to cook for your family? Vote buying. Can you see whats wrong here? Every government in history has to provide for its people. Will that get them votes? YES and rightfully so.

    I wish people would stop it already with the failed referendum. 33% voted Yes and 66% voted no, either directly or indirectly by abstaining from voting. THE END. Thank you all. God Bless.

  5. What is there to celebrate? That the majority of the voters who really cared and showed up to vote got destroyed by the ones that did not show and don’t really care. As far as I am concern, the losers are both sides, the yes and the no.

  6. The right to vote is precious and so few voted on such an important issue. That speaks very poorly of those who chose to stay home.

    Everyone is so dumbed down by their satellite TV, that they could not be bothered to be a responsible citizen.

    A different message would have been sent if voter turnout had been 95%. Pass or fail. Elected officials would know that the people will hold them accountable. Instead the message to government is do what you want as long as I can keep to my little world. Very sad.

    And then look all the mismanagement by government from the fuel cards to the Turtle Farm bonds to building a new school. There is no expectation that government must do an excellent job. Instead they are rewarded for their mediocrity with reelection as long as they keep the satallite TV and the Internet online.

  7. Befuddled, One can just as easily say he fought for the will of his people and Won, remember not everyone supported OMOV. I am sure that the ones that didn’t want a change don’t feel like he defeated them.

    Actually it wasn’t Bush that defeated anyone, This was a Vote open to all Registered Voters but unfortunately not enough people came out to support it. So it seems like the majority got their way.