Election time in the Cayman Islands is rapidly approaching. Just when it will arrive … that’s something we’re not so sure about. And it’s a major problem.
The reduction-by-defections of the ruling majority in the Legislative Assembly — now standing at 10 members to eight — has pushed this government to the very edge of viability. The loss of just one more member could spell doom for the Progressives-led government.
All of the above has engendered much speculation about political upheavals within parties, the possibility of the early dissolution of Parliament and the prospect of new elections in 2016 … perhaps as early as the first half of the year.
On the marl road, chins are wagging about ulterior motives, ministerial danglings and the influence of the impending transition from multimember districts to “one man, one vote.” There are more calculations occurring behind closed doors on this issue than there are within the audit departments of Cayman’s Big Four accounting firms.
In sum, there has been plenty of noise. What there hasn’t been is what the people of Cayman deserve: clarity and certainty.
We don’t have an opinion on the particular timing of a hypothetical election, be it winter, spring, summer or fall. However, if we are about to have an off-cycle election, we as a people deserve and need to know.
While it is a perfectly legitimate option, an early election is, well, “early.” In other words, it compresses the schedule for campaigning and moves up the deadlines for candidate registration, and, far more importantly, for voter registration.
At the beginning of the year, 18,271 people were registered to cast ballots in Cayman, according to the Official Register of Voters kept by the Elections Office.
A few weeks ago, Supervisor of Elections Wesley Howell said there are an estimated 5,000 Caymanians who are eligible to register to vote, but haven’t.
What that means to us, in the context of an early election, is that poor communication on the part of officials, in the form of a lack of forewarning, could result in the disenfranchisement of perhaps the single-largest bloc of voters in Cayman (amounting to 21 percent of the eligible voting population).
Three individuals in this country are in a position to offer some clarity as to the potential for or timing of an early election.
They are Premier Alden McLaughlin, Opposition Leader McKeeva Bush and Governor Helen Kilpatrick. To them, we pose the following direct questions, which merit direct answers:
- Premier McLaughlin, do you support an early election, or not?
- Mr. Bush, do you support an early election, or not?
- Governor Kilpatrick, if this government falls short of a ruling majority, are you willing to call an early election, or not?
… To all three, if so — then when, exactly?