Premier proposes voting alternative

Fresh
off what he has claimed as a victory in the ‘one man, one vote’ referendum,
Cayman Islands Premier McKeeva Bush has proposed “continuing the discussion” on
the country’s voting system.  

During
a broadcast address to the country Thursday night, Mr. Bush said he would form
a “bipartisan group” to study the merits and demerits of an alternative voting
system. 

The
system, as described by Mr. Bush, would create eight electoral districts on
Grand Cayman – all with roughly the same number of votes and returning two
members each to the Legislative Assembly. Under Mr. Bush’s proposal Cayman Brac
and Little Cayman would maintain the same voting system. 

“This
would be in line with the principles of equality and fairness for voters in
Grand Cayman as advocated by the one man, one vote committee but without the
dangerous elements of single-member constituencies,” Mr. Bush said. 

The
premier conceded that this plan would be just one way to address any “perceived
absence of equality”. 

Right
now, Grand Cayman has five voting districts which – as of the 2013 general
elections – will return anywhere from six to one MLAs to the assembly. 

“Let
us continue the dialogue on improving our electoral system to make it one that
our descendants will be proud of and thankful for,” he said. 

In a statement released Friday afternoon, Opposition Leader Alden McLaughlin seemed unimpressed with Premier Bush’s proposal.

“This is not what Caymanians said they want this past Wednesday,” Mr. McLaughlin said. “Voters said by a significant majority that they want single-member constituencies and I call on the Premier and his government to respect the voice of the people and move swiftly to implement single-member constituencies for the Cayman Islands in time for the General Elections in May.

“We do not need more discussions, we do not need more committees, we do not need more campaigning or another referendum.  All that is required is a simple amendment to the Elections Law. Come on Mr. Premier, you know what is right.  You know what the people want.  Just do it.”

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8 COMMENTS

  1. Nice to see that he realizes a lot of people want a change to the current system, which I agree is unfair. Two people in each district sounds a lot better to me than just one person having all the power. This actually sounds like a sensible option as the one thing I always felt is that each district should have the same amount of representation I just didn’t like the idea of having one district bossHopefully people will be open to dialog on this and not just knock it because it was brought up by Bush. The PPM folks and Miller wanted equal representation for each district so they shouldn’t have any issue with supporting this, if they do it will only be because of their hatred for Bush.

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  2. I thought he said that ‘what’s not broken doesn’t need fixing’ or words to that effect, meaning that our present system does not mean fixing, so what made him change his mind now?

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  3. Marilee, knowing that so many people want some type of change he may be looking for an equal balance. A lot of people may not agree with the OMOV option but there’s also a lot that do and something like this would make each district have equal representation without splitting the country into so many small parts, why knock it..

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  4. @NJ2Cay You seem to be a naive soul. How can premier one day proclaim a resounding vote for no change to our electoral system and then propose an entirely novel fundamental change to our voting system the very next day to be determined by a committee? Is he deliberately flouting what he says is the resounding will of the Caymanian people? If people believed the govt’s rhetoric about less representation, more social division, more expense, the system is not broke so don’t fix it, why on earth would they support this proposal? Or is it that he knows his followrs will simply blindly follow his lead even though he is flip-flopping? What will his supporters who declared this to be a dead issue say now when the premier is clearly treating it as a live issue? Watch them turn on a dime. Cayman politics is getting more and more scary by the day.

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  5. Speaker, No one can really say they know what ulterior motives politicians have for their choices. What I do know is that they want to get as many votes as they can. I am inclined to believe that while he doesn’t like the OMOV option for whatever reason he may have, he obviously knows that there are a lot of people who do not approve of the status quo which will affect his numbers. I sounds to me like he may be looking for is an equal balance between the people that support OMOV and those and who do not if can make enough people from both sides happy he will have a better change at next year’s election which I am sure is on his mind. He knows that if he doesn’t do something he will lose a lot of potential supporters even in his own district. So he may be willing to compromise.

    Tell me why is the 9 District option with 2 MLA’s each so bad compared to the OMOV option. Doesn’t this mean equal representation across the island as well..?

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  6. @NJ2Cay what it tells me is that the premier does not believe in the truth of his own rhetoric and his supporters will repeat any line, not because they have considered it and agree, but out of partisan loyalty. If he really believed in the negative claims I recounted in my previous post it would be unthinkable to make such a proposal. Instead they were conveniently adopted in order to confuse the voter.

    If the people have spoken resoundingly as he claims then that must be the end of the matter. Who would be so foolhardy as to defy them by going opposite to their wishes? One cannot achieve balance by doing so. Obviously he does not really believe that there was any resounding statement in favour of the current voting system, but understands that he has suffered political damage from the position he’s taken and is trying to repair that damage by appeasing some. He figures he can divide OMOV campaigners with a proposal that superficially sounds attractive. He is counting on his supporters parroting whatever he says even if it involves serious contradictions.

    He also figures that if you put the matter in a committee’s hands nothing will be achieved before the next general election but you will avoid it as an election issue because there is a bi-partisan committee.

    As to the problems with the proposal itself:

    1. It is not clear whether he is suggesting this would be on the basis of OMOV. If it isn’t then this is a non-starter.

    2. It is not clear how the constituencies would be divided. It could be an open door to gerrymandering. At this point it seems like it may be a ploy to eliminate his two strongest critics in the LA – Ezzard and Arden – by combining Bodden Town with North Side and East End.

    3. It still does not achieve the accountability of OMOV SMCs since there would be two MLAs responsible.

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