The push for the proposed one man, one vote (OMOV) electoral system is probably more about candidate equality than voter equality. Nothing wrong 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 that it 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!
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