Although our premier, Hon McKeeva Bush, claims he has never seen the petition currently circulating asking for a people initiated referendum on the subject of â€śone man, one voteâ€ť and only â€śheard lots about the petitionâ€ť he has capitulated to the growing demand for one. In an unexpected announcement in Wednesdayâ€™s (11) meeting of the LA he said he decided to hold the national ballot before the next election on 12 July because of what he described as the divisiveness that the debate was causing in the country.
â€śWhen combined with the politics that have been infused into the discussion, it has, and will create significant confusion in these Islands,â€ť he added. â€śMy government had previously made a commitment to hold a referendum on the issue at the same time as the next general election. However due to the deepening divide in the country caused by the wayÂ the opposition, and the independent member from North Side, has used this issue,Â my government feels it responsible to put this issue to the electors of this country.â€ť
So Mr. Bushâ€™s government has finally come to its senses or has his government finally made him see some wisdom that has sadly been lacking recently in his behaviour?
â€śI am optimistic that after the intelligent people of the Cayman Islands have made themselves fully knowledgeable and informed on the pros and cons of the various systems, as they have always done, they will make the right decision on this subject,â€ť Bush said.
Now we come to the important part. We, being â€śintelligentâ€ť, will be put through â€śa public education process on the proposal for single member constituenciesâ€ť provided by his government. We will be subjected to his governmentâ€™s version of â€śthe pros and cons of the various systems.â€ť Then, and only after this â€śeducationâ€ť, we will be informed of the question or questions that will be framed in the referendum.
What is the betting on the â€śfairnessâ€ť of the question or questions and/or how simple it/they will be? And how biased will be the pros and cons?
It is a well publicised fact that the premier is an opponent of single member constituencies.
In his statement he said, â€śThe introduction will be costly as I believed it would increase demands on the countryâ€™s limited resources, as it will see constituencies demanding individual services and amenities. People who are historically used to voting for and having multiple representatives to represent them, under the changed system will only have a single representative.Â So people will be put in a worse position; for most people who live in constituencies with 4- 3- 2- representatives â€“ if they move to 1, their Franchise rights will be severely shrunken.
He claims there would need to be 18 constituency offices and 18 secretaries with associated resources; claims that have been widely disputed by those promoting the concept of one man, one vote and single member constituencies which is considered more democratic than multiple voting rights by most democratic countries in the world.
I have said Mr. Bush is a wily politician and I donâ€™t think he is giving up. He may have capitulated over the referendum but he has the advantage of the public purse in his advertising campaign for our education on the subject.