Candidate equality

| 06/07/2012

The push for the proposed one man, one vote (OMOV) electoral system is probably more about candidate equality than voter equality. Nothingwrong with this, but of course this is never mentioned as a motive. In my previous post on “Voter Equality” on CNS readers posted the right question but the answer was not really discussed or debated.

I had alluded to the fact that certain people were doing most of the pushing for OMOV and had concluded thatit must somehow be to their advantage to have OMOV.  One poster asked, what does the MLA for East End and North Side have to gain by OMOV? The question was posted almost rhetorically, as if they thought these MLA’s had nothing to gain. I believe the opposite is true.

There can be no doubt by anyone who has been following politics in Cayman that both the MLA for East End and North Side would have no problem being the political leader of these Islands. Absolutely nothing wrong with that either.

The present system of voting probably makes it more difficult for independent candidates to be elected.  Just look at the numbers of independent candidates elected if you have any doubts. The present multi-member system also guarantees that candidates will be elected with a wide margin in the number of votes that each receives. The MLAs for East End and North Side get elected with a relative handful of votes. Less than 200 votes can give a candidate a seat as an MLA in these small districts. The leading candidates for George Town and West Bay, on the other hand, can easily get 3000 votes by comparison. Big difference!

What this means is that it is more difficult for the MLA for East End and North Side to rise to the top of the heap and take the reins of political power. This is clearly evident as you look at history. We have to go back to Jim Bodden to find a political leader that has not come from West Bay or George Town. Charisma and personality gave him the edge. Since formal political parties have emerged, the top vote-getters in George Town and West Bay have always been our leader/premier.

Another example is the most recent competition for the internal leadership of the PPM. The MLA for East End tried vying for this top position, however I suspect it was very difficult to get the votes needed against his George Town colleague. No real surprise there, considering the mathematics.

If we go to OMOV this should help level the playing field for candidates and will make it easier for candidates from the existing smaller districts to emerge as premier. Independent candidates may also have a better chance to get elected as an MLA and subsequently as premier in a coalition situation. No reason to be ashamed of this. 

The top position of premier is given to the person who is leader of the party/group commanding the majority of elected MLAs.  One thing is for certain, under the OMOV system, the competitiveness for leadership will be more intense, and the likelihood for changes at the top amongst colleagues from the same party, even during a political term, will be increased.  Remember the premier can remove his/her ministers at any time. 

A vote for OMOV should bring greater numerical equality for both voters and candidates. Whether it will improve the caliber of our representatives, overall good governance, create greater unity, national perspective and our quality of life remains to be seen, but I have my doubts.

I still don’t know how to vote on referendum day. HELP!

Category: Viewpoint

Comments (51)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    It is quite amazing that we are having a Referendum on our voting system and no one is talking about Proportional Representation.

    You might have thought the people of this country would have been given a reasonable education on various options before they vote in a referendum.  Most people will go to the polls and will be none the wiser. 

     

    • anonymous says:

      The current Administration which is against OMOV is busy caling names and scare mongering.  If they felt that the current system 'Proportional Representaion" was a better thwey would be defending it instaid of taking the approach they are.  They call what they are doing educating the public. 

    • Anonymous says:

      Most of the other Caribbean islands that have OMOV also have a 2 houses of parliament – or legislatures, one elected and one appointed.

      Many good people are not elected under OMOV so what happens is that the execuitive (led by Premier or prime Minister) gets to appoint senators who serve in the senate or upper house. These people in most cases can also serve as Ministers.

      We simply are not thinking this whole thing through thoroughly. 

       

  2. Hans Klien n hartpuir says:

    QUOTE .

    Another example is the most recent competition for the internal leadership of the PPM. The MLA for East End tried vying for this top position, however I suspect it was very difficult to get the votes needed against his George Town colleague. No real surprise there, considering the mathematics.

    QUOTE

    If we go to OMOV this should help level the playing field for candidates and will make it easier for candidates from the existing smaller districts to emerge as premier. Independent candidates may also have a better chance to get elected as an MLA and subsequently as premier in a coalition situation. No reason to be ashamed of this.

    Che, these are all your invente opinions, and not sound thinking.

    The best way to become the Premier of this country is to become the leader of a political party. SMC, if it is the Lord's will for Cayman, will not make it easier to become the leader of the country in any kind of coalition type government. If your mathematic abilities are so convoluted to lead you to believe these two quotes, then you should stop listening to career politicians that have a vested interest in a failing society, and read more!

    Perhaps things will be a lot more clear!    

     

  3. Anonymous says:

    Something also just occurred to me.  The One Man One Vote system may also work against the PPM.   McKeeva will likely win whichever single member constituency he runs in in west bay.  It is basically gonna be a safe seat. The UDP has had control of all 4 seats in West bay for a while.

    What about the PPM leader?  He got beat out for second place the last time. The former PPM leader almost got beat out of first place.  If the UDP runs Mike Adam directly against Alden Mclaughlin for a single seat, the PPM leader could loose.  Not only would he no longer be leader of the PPM, he wouildnt even be an MLA.

    Be careful what you ask for.  Thats why the JLP in jamaica always made their leader run in Tivoli gardens.  If you dont even get elected you cant be prime Minister (or in our case premier).

    I hope the PPM know what they are doing.

    • Anonymous also says:

      OMOV is meant to help the people have more sy in Government not to help or hurt any given party.

    • Anonymous says:

      Correction: Kurt Tibbetts was the first elected member in GT in the 2009 elections. He was not beat out by anyone.

      Obviously each candidate would have to decide where their strongest support lies and run in that constituency. It does not follow that Mike Adam would beat Alden Mclaughlin in whatever constituency they ran just because he got more votes for the entire district of George Town as a multi-member constituency in the last election.       

  4. Michel says:

    With only 10 days to go to July 18th. referendum I still smell fear and intimidation in the air. Afraid to loose your job, monthly cheque,handout, work permit not being renewed or simply afraid of what others may think and some ? There are so many good comments and sugestions here but unless we are willing to come out of the closet and put our name towhat we express sincerely and not just let  our fingers do the talking. This is not for a popularity contest , it's about our future and many concerns we have. Yes I agree with the concern of some of about the way our constitution was finalized and we have a long road ahead but honestly can it get any worst ? Tired of being stressed out over a goverment that passes any new Laws that don't make sense many times, wasting money, not being able to balance our budget and we can't do a darn thing about it or either not on the favoritism list that that some stand to gain more if it remain so. Remember : " No one is Irreplaceble " . I for one will choose my future candidates very carefully on their merits, experience and honesty and will ask a lot of questions. I want my grandchildren to be able to look back and say that we at least tried to do the right thing Not election time yet though so let's begin by really meaning what we say here and stand up for our rights for this important event coming up ( Probably once in our life time). Please turn up to vote at least and for the record I am not Politically motivated and my comments do not reflect any of my family members. They are quite capable to think for themselves. My responsibility as the Patriarch of a family of 18 is to guide my children if they don't understand but also make certain they go and vote and explain to them that this is for the future of their children. So yes we ALL sometimes stand to loose something but if you look at the other side of the coin we also have much to gain God Bless, and I sign Michel Lemay.

  5. Anonymous says:

    In all my years of voting in a multi-member district, I have never had a politician come to my door looking for my vote.  

    • Michel says:

      Good for you I did. 2 of them, many moons ago and guess who ? Yes your gut feeling is right and family members where in the house at the time thinking wow this is great. What personnalized servive. 1 got in and I did not and I never heard from them again and once tried to make an appointment for a very personnal concern I had. You're right again no one called. I ask 2 MLA's ( to pass the message in the form of a letter which they kindly did. Still no answer but was faithful supporter until …. I am sure you know the rest by now ! Sad yes but it's the honest truth as God is my witness. I was near death twice and I must commend honorable Alden Mclauglin and the Honorable Mr.Mike Adams for their kind words and their honest concern and help. Not for political favors but just because they really cared and will be forever thankful. Yes we don't always have to think Politic favourisim because they are human also. We need to learn of the good sides of people or even Some Politicians so that we can see a spade as a spade. God Bless, Michel Lemay

    • Anonymous says:

      Under OMOV and the smaller single member areas that will change.  At least 10 or 12 candidates will be knocking at your door asking for your vote.  They will all want to get to know you personnaly, get to know your business, what you think on issues etc.   Not sure i like the idea of people coming to my home trying to convince me to vote for them. Sounds like certain religious groups who come a knocking.

      • Anonymous says:

        Why would there be 10 or 12 candidates? In the last elections NS had 3, EE 2 and CB 4. Why would the number of candidates multiply once you have smaller constituencies? Obviously the number of candidates in MMCs would be divided. Stop the ridiculous scare mongering. It makes you sound desparate and shows you have no real argument against OMOV.

        No, you don't want your representative to know your views on issues so he can properly represent you, you just want to vote blindly for a party even though it serves the interests of big developlers and ignores the interests of these Islands. How come the people in EE and NS are not intimidated like you are?

  6. Anonymous says:

    I wonder if under OMOV, we would ever get approval to put the new proposed Waste Management Facility to the area of Breakers or anywhere else for that matter?.  Based on the NOt in my Backyard NIMBY mentality i cannot see how how the single member representative would ever support it.  In that case we will never get it moved from where it is.

    The BT Minister under the Multi-member district system, at least could see the bigger picture and support it and i have to assume he did what he thought was right regardless of the votes he would lose.

    Under the present multi-member distict voting, the Minister from BT would still have a chance to get back in based on the wider district voting.  In such a small island,  these small single member districts will make it almost impossible to get anything done on a local level that is of national consequence that and benefits the entire community.

    Talk about crabs in a bucket.  At least right now under the multi-member system the crabs are the small red shanks.  Lord help us under a single member constituency where each representative will now be of the large blue crab variety. 

  7. Chris says:

    Che Midas you are absolutely correct.

    As stated in your article, "A vote for OMOV should bring greater numerical equality for both voters and candidates."

    It is on that basis you and any others who fall in the "undecided" category should vote YES on July 18th.

    The primary purpose of One Man One Vote is to achieve equality in voting. Each voter in Cayman is equal and therefore should have a single vote. 

    As for the second part of your statement, "Whether it will improve the caliber of our representatives, overall good governance, create greater unity, national perspective and our quality of life remains to be seen…."

    Rest assured that one man one vote will NOT reduce the caliber of your representatives, good governance, unity, national perspective or quality of life.

    • Anonymous says:

      the last half of your statement is accurate, the quality of representation won’t change simply because we have reached the bottom of the barrel and that seems to be the continued trend. I reach out to some of our business leaders in the private sector, especially our younger up and coming ones and ask them to step forward and run for office. The moment politicians become professional politicians and make that their career of choice they will do anything to retain their role including putting aside the needs of the country. Then I am radical enough to suggest that we should allow those who hold status and have been here say at least 20 years should have the right to run for office, they are as vested in the interest of this country as the so called sons and daughters of the soil and if one reads the Immigration laws we are one of the few countries where being born here does not automatically give citizenship even to a Caymanian, under our Immigration law Caymanians are granted citizenship by law not birth so sons and daughters of the soil (especially those of you whose parents wanted to make sure to take advantage of you being able to get dual citizenship so snuck up to the US and made sure you were born there) better make sure your paperwork is in order. But back to my original thought new blood and no more than two tenures in office and performance based salaries would do far better for this country than just one man (sexist by the way should be one person) one vote will do alone. Bring on the thumbs down, sigh.

  8. Libertarian says:

    I always say there is one component missing from the OMOV drive that will increase MLAs being accountable to their district electorate:-  THE POWER OF THE DISTRICT-VOTERS TO VOTE OUT OR REMOVE AN MLA WHILST HE/SHE IS SERVING THEIR TERM! *****

    This is a provision that should have been in our Constitution from day one, but apparently the document is more in the politicians advantage than it is in the people's advantage. Such a provision would have made MLAs think twice before they think about their own party interest and representation over the people's interest and their representation. Besides, if we voted for you, you should be representing no one else but US, and we should have that power to vote you out for incompetence. MORE DEMOCRATIC CHANGE MUST COME… EVEN AFTER THE OMOV!

    • James says:

      I fully concur. I bet if this became a referendum issue that you brought up, Ezzard, Alden, Arden, McKeeva, every one of them would either be silent or opposing the idea!  They are for OMOV now because they know it will be to their favor as well. But trust me, the buck will stop there. Don't expect to much reforms from politicians.  

  9. Anonymous says:

    One of the big proponents of the one man one vote is an interesting case study.

    He has run for political office a number of times and has been unsuccessful.  He first ran in an existing single member district that returns only one candidate.  He lost.  He subsequently ran as a candidate in a multi-member district, and again he lost.  It seems that it was all about getting elected, not neccessarily about who he was representing. Again not about you the voter, but about me the candidate.

    This individual is campaigning heavily for one man one vote.

    It will be interesting to see where this person will try and represent if we change the system.  Under the OMOV system, it will not be so much about you the voter, but about the candidate.  People are going to run wherever they feel they have the best chance of getting elected.

    The OMOV system will create alot of difficulty for candidates especially those in political parties as they will all have to agree about where to stand for election. The stronger district candidates will not necssarily be run in areas that they were the strongest.  The weaker party candidates will likely be placed first (ie given the best chance of them being elected) and the stronger candidates places in the areas that are more challenging.

    If i were running i would wait until the last minute and let everybody else show their hand, then analyse the situation based on the number of candidates and who the candidates are. Only then would i choose where to run.

     

     

    • Anonymous says:

      You know that is the same way to win a bid on Ebay and it is called "swoop" You swoop in and snatch the prize in the last moment but then everyone has learned this technique.

      • Anonymous says:

        No, actually such a bid at the last second is called a "SNIPE" and is often quite effective if done correctly.  OMOV will just bring out the snipes in our midst and show them for what they are – power mad and greedy.

    • Anonymous says:

      Wow you are right> this is going to shake up things alot. talk about excitement.!

    • Anonymous says:

      It is very despiccable to turn this into a personal thing. Shame on you.

      • Anonymous says:

        Totally agree.  We all know who he talking about.  Why, is another question.

    • Anonymous says:

      The writer of this article seems to be missing something.

      It is true the premeir or in the past leader of government business has come from the districts of George Town and West Bay but it has nothing to do with the total number of voters. That position is chosen by votes from the other elected members not the total population.

      If the premeir comes from the highest number of votes under the OMOV then we may never get Mac out of power.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Cayman missed the boat with the last version of the constitution.

     

    Instead of increasing the number of MLAs to 18, the constitution should have cut them back to 7 or 9. It also should have scrapped the geographic voting boundaries and let all Caymanians vote for all candidates to elect the top 7 or 9. The elected 7 or 9 would then select one of their number to act as leader.

     

    This system would save a whole lot of money and still be democratic. It would also ensure that the best qualified would hopefully rise to the top and sideline those inferiors who have a corrupt hold on a small neighbourhood.

     

    Sadly, we are stuck with an overly expensive form of government.

    • Libertarian says:

      Yes, I agree in terms of COST. But please note that in terms of REPRESENTATION, the more MLAs we have in the LA, is the more our voices will be heard. I think that is what most people here are concern about – their representation. Of course, government can cut cost in other ways.

    • Anonymous says:

      Exactly. What a shame,

      The other thing i dont like about these single member areas and one person one vote is that if say Kurt Tibbetts and Mike Adam run in the same area.  One of them will not get in.

      We are going to loose alot of good people with this sort of voting.

    • Anonymous says:

      The politicians who appear the most corrupt get elected in large districts while those elected in the smallest districts have high integrity. 

      That is a very silly suggestion. We needed 12 legislators in 1972 but somehow in 2012 we only need 7. Do you also propose that all 7 be Ministers and have no opposition? The stupidity that gets thumbs up is amazing.  

  11. Anonymous says:

    Even Kurt Tibbetts is now backing one person one vote with the radio adverts.  With Mike Adam almost getting the top spot for George Town last time i wonder if Kurts motive has anything to do with going down in history as the last 1st Elected MLA for George Town?  If we change, no one will ever be that ever again.

     

  12. Michel says:

    11 days to go and Counting. July 18th. soon come. We will not only show the people that as a people that we can all stand togeher  on this historical day but also the UK and therest of the world that we are not taking this lightly.We will not longer accept coruption and bullying to our important regular visitors, family, friends and investors to name a few. We aregood, honest working people. And we are sick and tired and the abuses, playing of our minds, keeping us down and so much more this is becoming a vexation to our souls, Only 1 thing to do Please VOTE and convince your loved ones and friends that the only way to go for The Betterment of Our Cayman Islands and it's future is to vote " OMOV". Let's educate those still confused as the goal post is and still keep shiting. I can't wai to get home " Lord's Willing ".  Also may the family and friends of the late" Brenda Mohamed " be comforted and reminence of the good days and accept that she is going to in a much better Place for the funeral today and the grieving to come. Goodbye Friend, I will miss you. Cant' to get home !! God Blessed everyone and continue Love one Another. Michel Lemay

  13. Anonymous says:

    The OMOV concept evolved as a way to overthrow the UDP, several politicians got together a group and "primed the pump" so to speak and continue to quietly follow the movement to assure it stays on track and they have stepped into the background so the public voices can attest that OMOV isn't a politically driven movement.

    Observing the movement and watching the public on air time that it receives clearly demonstrate this situation.

    Unfortunately they have not stressed enough why a voter who has multiple votes now will be better off to give them up for 1 vote in the future. Unless they make that perfectly clear the referendum will fail. The bulk of the votes come from the large districts and for the referendum to pass these are the voters who will decide the issue.

    • Libertarian says:

      Understand that under the OMOV system, you will have 18 single member districts. Here is the advantage over what we have now:- With smaller districts with 900 to 1000 persons each, there will be more democratic representation for minorities as well as the majority. Presently, minorities are not that represented because the majority rules in a given district. But if you break up the districts into smaller ones, minorities will be able to have a say. An MLA will be more accountable to minorities under this system than it would be under a system where the population in each district is all like over 10,000 persons. I also oppose the National Vote for that very said reason where districts will be ignored. If National Vote was implemented, the majority which could consist very well of George Towners and West Bayers, would all the time have a say in democratic representation and the minority would be completely left out; especially those in the lesser districts. That is why I believe you have to break up the districts into more districts. Studies have been done about this… this is no make-up plan. It is all about representing people more. In addition, the OMOV system would be a fair one, one person with one vote (no matter where you came from) and FAIRNESS does play a major role in a fair democracy, doesn't it?   

    • Anonymous says:

      People have been supporting OMOV since thye 1990s before the UDP ever existed. It was recommended by the Constititional Commssioners in 1991 and again in 2002. What you are expressing is simply your fear that it will unseat the UDP.  

      • Anonymous says:

        If you don't believe the current rush to change the system is not modivated upon politics then you are naive. The constitution was rewritten and passed in 2009 without OMOV so apparently it wasn't too unfair just 3 years ago.

        • Anonymous says:

          We have all heard the reason it wasn't included in the new Constitution. It was strongly opposed by McKeeva and Alden wanted the UDP support for the new Constitution so they took it out. Bad move on PPM's part but please don't pretend as if this is a brand new issue.   

  14. Mon E Ting says:

    Che Mydas if you read John C. Maxwell's book, Thinking For a Change, all will be revealed. For me change has always been good! I will vote YES on the referendum.                                                      

  15. Anonymous says:

    I have no say in this vote as I am an expat, and also do not prefer one party to the other. BUT looking at this issue makes me think if I were entitled to vote, I would like to vote for proportional representation.

    Even if I lived in Bodden Town and opposed the dump, I would prefer to confront two MLAs about their responsibilities, rather than just one while letting the other one think they have nothing to do with it.

    Surely you are going to end up with 18 different people with 18 different agendas in the house, each of them trying to please an extremely tiny pool of people? Isn't it better to have MLAs with a wider sense of responsibility to their district rather than their street?

    Think about it – OMOV means that the people who the MLAs represent are even further diminished … someone will get into power because a tiny tiny fraction of the population likes them. In this small community, there are so few issues that are truly at the neighbourhood level, that this seems like the opposite of democracy. We are ALL battling with high cost of living, poor business climate, etc etc, thatto pretend you will improve representation by further decreasing the number of people who vote for you, seems a bit strange to me.

    • Libertarian says:

      You said, "Surely you are going to end up with 18 different people with 18 different agendas in the house, each of them trying to please an extremely tiny pool of people?"  Of course not, all 18 members could still be for a party, and let's say they are all independents, then there is something called debating an issue and reconciliation. At least a diverse House would address the issues at hand, and more well thought out laws will be passed for the people's benefit. Yes "each of them trying to please an extremely tiny pool of people" is grass roots democracy, and that can never be bad for the country!  

    • Anonnymous says:

      I agree with this post.  When the rubber hits the road it is still the government who is in power, i.e. who has the majority of seats, who will make the decisions.  I'm hoping we will end up with a coalition, whether OMOV passes or not.  I'd rather not have either party in power. 

      • Anonymous says:

        That's what many hoped for last time and split their votes accordingly. We ended up with a UDP government as a result becuase UDP diehards will not split their vote.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Why are you still confused? its a simple concept – all persons are equal, all voters are equalso all voters should have 1 vote equally.

    Although I appreciate that the UDP are deliberately pushing alot of misinformation to cloud issues and confuse:

     

     

    • Anonymous says:

      If this issue was simply an arithmatic problem the answer would be easy.  That is what the proponents would have you believe.Unfortunatly life and politics are more complicated than that. I predict that we are going to be surprized with who gets elected under this system and its not going to be for the better.

      hope im wrong on this.

       

  17. Anonymous says:

    So its still all about the politicians!  Should i hold my breath in the hope that things will improve after one man one vote?

    • Libertarian says:

      No its about "representation." Of course, it would benefit the politician in that the politician would have less people to represent in the range of 900-1000 persons. You would have 18 electoral districts. And it would benefit those in the minority, because they would have a better of being represented than if Cayman had no electoral districts and the majority ruled.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Agreed!

    And i'll vote Yes! for One Person One Vote to help ensure this equality/equity to both Candidates and Voters alike.

    Having studied both sides of the "debates" i beleive voting Yes! moves Cayman Democracy in the right direction.

    By far, most democracies endorse voter aquality. And there are more "honourable" persons here in Cayman calling for this equality also.

  19. Anonymous says:

    If you love this country and are eligible to vote, make sure that you are registered to vote and vote yes to OMOV. Otherwise remember that not voting at all counts for the status quo just as much as a no vote given the way this referendum has been rigged up and just stay home so the rest of us won't need to queue in the heat.

    • Anonymous says:

      The stale old line, "If you love your country you will do as I say…" Then if you disagree then you are a bad Caymanian who doesn't love the country. manipulation – much

  20. Anonymous says:

    "One thing is for certain, under the OMOV system, the competitiveness for leadership will be more intense, and the likelihood for changes at the top amongst colleagues from the same party, even during a political term, will be increased".

    That would be a good thing. It is not healthy to have one person entrenched at the top. It encourages dictatorial tendencies as we have seen.

  21. Libertarian says:

    We need to drift away from party foolishness and start representing our people here. One Person One Vote is the right step in the right direction. If we want more democracy or more towards a democratic governmental system, OMOV is the only option now. MLAs need to stop representing big shots and party, and start representing who voted them in!  Hopefully, if OMOV pass, we can not end there – we can push forward for more changes and a more democratic society.  Let us not end with OMOV… 

  22. Anonymous says:

    The most important thing is to make the legislators individually responsible to the people who elected them. Right now most are only concerned with getting onto a party slate of four or five and riding someone else's coattails into office. Guess whose interest they think is most important after they are elected? Cayman is moving away from the backroom politics of the rich families and the resulting politics are going to look messy in comparison, but you'll get used to it. All the fond memories of unity in the past simply disguise the fact that all decisions were made by a couple of people whose economic interests were aligned.