Eastern representatives fear district redraw

The Cayman Islands political party leadership, both government and opposition, is seeking to eliminate one of the two elected representatives from East End and North Side by combining the two districts ahead of the 2017 general election, the two members said Wednesday.

Speaking on Radio Cayman’s “For the Record” program, North Side MLA Ezzard Miller urged constituents to come out and oppose such a move during public meetings scheduled over the next few days. The East End public meeting is set for Thursday evening.

Mr. Miller said it was obvious that “part of the intent of both political parties is to try and combine East End [with North Side] with the hope of getting rid of either me or [East End MLA] Arden [McLean].”

“There is something afoot,” Mr. McLean said. “[Opposition Leader] McKeeva [Bush] talking about conspiracies; this is the conspiracy he needs to talk about.”

Mr. McLean has also alleged that Premier Alden McLaughlin was seeking to add a 19th seat to the Legislative Assembly as part of the redistricting effort.

“The premier, in more than passing, has made strong statements about us increasing the membership of the legislature because of the fear of hung governments,” Mr. McLean said, referring to the potential – with an even number of 18 MLAs – to be split nine to nine, resulting in no government being formed.

The head of Cayman’s three-member Electoral Boundary Commission has said that the group has not been instructed to add any Legislative Assembly seats to the territory’s voting map ahead of the May 2017 general election.

“We plan on drawing 18 single-member districts,” Commission Chairperson Lisa Handley told the Cayman Compass.

The Compass asked Ms. Handley, following her appointment in January, about her general views in drawing up single-member representative districts.

“Electoral districts that vary greatly in population violate the central tenet of democracy that all voters be able to cast a vote of equal weight,” she said. “However, boundary commissions should be given some degree of flexibility to balance the concern for equal population with other redistricting criteria such as respect for communities of interest.”

This issue of “equality of voting,” or that all representative districts should have roughly the same number of voters, was discussed by a group of election observers from the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association sent to keep an eye on Cayman’s 2013 general election. Widely varied numbers of voters in each district is against the principles of equal voting rights, Commonwealth election analysts said.

Mr. Miller roundly opposed this idea on Wednesday: “I don’t know of any two constituencies or any electoral boundary commission that succeeds in having every district or every constituency equal in votes. The equality in voting does not come from the number of voters the person represents; it comes from the fact that each person in that constituency has equal influence in forming the government.”

Mr. McLaughlin said Wednesday that he had made no such proposal to draw out one of the eastern district members by combining their two voting districts. Opposition Leader Bush appeared to support the idea during a Tuesday night public meeting in West Bay.

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  1. I have always asked myself why Mr. Miller and Mr. McLean would want to push so aggressively for single member constituencies and this idea of equal representation as it was clear to me that such a move would have most likely resulted in the combination of their two districts in order to achieve equal representation. The other election district that might be of some concern is Cayman Brac/Little Cayman.

    We need to get these things sorted out fast.

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  2. I have always wondered why on earth we need so many MLAs to represent the people.

    In the Cayman Islands there are 18 members to represent about 25,000 citizens. And of of course no one to represent the other 25,000 residents.

    In the UK there are about 600 MPs to represent some 60 million. Or one MP per 100,000.

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  3. The only figures I could find for Salaries dated from 2009/2010, but were in the range of 10-15k per month?

    That would imply the cost of MLA wages alone is 2.5 to 3 million, which to be fair is only a half percent of the total budget. Though of course the salary is only a fraction of the costs involved.

    I think it was Mr Bush who suggested a 20% paycut for MLA’s several years ago (which to no-ones surprise did not get passed), but a 20% cut in the NUMBER of MLA’s would yield a much bigger dividend.

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  4. Mr Miller, you seem a bit confused!
    You say "equality in voting does not come from the number of voters the person represents; it comes from the fact that each person in that constituency has equal influence in forming the government". But, you see the equal influence derives from the fair sharing of the constituencies, in other words, each one represents about the same number of people! Your first sentence contradicts the second, cheer up though, you probably had the same foot in your mouth as when you started on about bloodshed and revolution!

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  5. To all those rejoicing in advance,don’t worry Arden and Ezzard are not going anywhere.Neither will North Side or East End.The UK Government through the FCO has already shown that they are willing to be flexible in this matter when they allowed for Cayman Brac and Little Cayman to have a guarantee of 2 seats put in the Constitution.The two Eastern Districts will be allowed to remain as is based on historical reasons or as the Commission leader said " respect for communities of interest.”End of story.

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  6. @ Norman Linton,your comment seems to be unfinished and therefore could be misleading.In the first instance you state that our MLAs only represent 25,000 persons and that a further 25000 are unrepresented .Please explain.Secondly you say that in the UK there are 600 MPs representing 60 million people ,but you fail to mention how many are unrepresented.This gives the impression that all UK citizens are represented,is that really the case.Please explain.

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  7. @Leon, You can have as many representatives as you like, Just remember they’re not FREE.
    Put another way you can have as many MLA’s as you’re willing to pay for ! – There is a point after which it ceases to be efficient and becomes a luxury, given things like the unfunded civil service liability, approaching loan repayments etc. this might be the time to prioritize such indulgences.

    Perhaps this would be fairer if their salary was directly linked to the number of constituents – The MLA’s for Georgetown could be paid 2.5 times more – it must be harder work to keep that many more people happy. L.O.L. 😉

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