Vote hijacked says Mac
(CNS): Political bosses who are desperate for power hi-jacked the national referendum on single member constituencies, the premier said in the early hours of Thursday morning when he delivered a speech to his UDP supporters in George Town after the result. McKeeva Bush said he wanted to acknowledge what he said were the “well intentioned young Caymanians” that had started the OMOV movement based on their beliefs but he said it was “hi-jacked by the political bosses”. Bush himself was accused of hi-jacking the campaign started by those same grassroots activists when he decided to set the referendum on government’s and not the people’s terms. (Photo courtesy of Cayman27)
During his speech after the polls closed, when a majority of voters had polled in favour of single member constituencies, Bush made it clear he believed the result was still a ‘no’ because of those who did not vote. He accused the opposition party and the independent member for North Side of taking over what had started as a discussion about the country’s electoral system.
“It was unfortunate that it was hi-jacked by political bosses so desperate to grasp power they would trample on anybody to get a platform,” Bush told the UDP crowd. “Unfortunately what seemed to start off as a discussion about the political system and a choice between multi-member and single-member constituencies quickly turned into a tidal wave of PPM and political rants.”
He said the people saw through this as they didn’t want the electoral boundaries redefined only to make it easier for the opposition to get elected.
Bush admitted that the campaign was heated, as he said there was too much politics put into it by those political bosses and opposition members because they brought the Dart issue, the weakness of economy and “used everything against government and every weapon they had” during the OMOV campaign.
Defying logic, the premier stated that the results of the referendum spoke for themselves, and despite the fact that voters polled two to one in favour of single member constituencies, because some voters did not vote he said that they had spoken. He claimed the results reflected the wishes of the people but he said the elections office was wrong about the poll being advisory and maintained that it was a binding referendum.
Bush also said that the people who did go out and vote ‘yes” were all PPM people. The people in his own constituency of West Bay, on the other hand, were upset about the referendum and he stated that “hundreds of them” had told him that government should not have spent money on the vote and they “felt as the constitution said what it said they could stay away and still register the vote, so they stayed away,” he said.
The PPM people came out in force “because they had to or else,” Bush told the crowd, but his people stayed home and the UDP had not been running around getting people to come out. He said all the government had done was have a few meetings.
The good thing about the result was that the majority of voters said 'no' by staying away or by coming to the polls to vote ‘no', Bush claimed, and according to the constitution that meant there was a ‘no’ majority. Quoting the constitution, he referred to the sections dealing with a people-initiated referendum and not a government sponsored poll, which is dealt with under a different section. (See viewpoint Not all referenda are equal.) This was a government ballot as the petition for the people-initiated referendum asking for a November poll was never submitted.
Bush pointed to the difficulties his government now had to focus on, including his failure as minister of finance to produce a budget and the challenging economic climate. “We have our work cut out for us,” he said, as he urged people to join government to help solve its problems and work to turn the economy around and create jobs.
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