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Term limits for politicians

| 05/08/2016 | 49 Comments

Cayman News ServiceBlue Iguana writes: Less than a year remains until eligible electors from Cayman’s nineteen single-member constituencies head to the polls. As the 2017 General Elections draw near, one particular question that constituents entertain in the lead up to election season is this: who else has intentions of entering the political sphere? However, we seldom pose the question in reverse to our veteran parliamentarians: when will their departure be?

It is a question that often proves unanswerable to the public. Nevertheless, the reasoning behind their persistent pursuit of parliament couldn’t be any clearer: the absence of term limits.

From a global standpoint, term limits are not uncommon. From Africa to the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Middle East, the concept has been widely adopted and legally respected all over the world. In fact, there are more countries with restrictions on servable presidential and ministerial terms than without – according to the CIA World Factbook.

Without having legislation enacted to restrict the number of terms an officeholder may serve, the electorate will continue to be susceptible to re-electing and regurgitating the same representatives over and over again.

Enough is enough. How can we, as an electorate, expect to have meaningful socioeconomic change materialise when we recycle the two same administrations each election cycle?

The premier, for example, has been continuously elected by the people of George Town since 2000; meanwhile, the leader of the opposition has retained his seat in West Bay comfortably since 1984 – thirty-two years as a lawmaker.

The outcome in West Bay will be no different in 2017. Unless the public takes significant interest in term limits and demands them, politicians have no reason to implement such policy.

This lack of essential electoral reform discourages potential political aspirants, perhaps some of whom may be our educated youths, from participating in the shaping of our society through political representation in the LA.

First-time candidates are clearly disadvantaged from the start. Consider the fact that the general public may not be as well-familiarised with these political hopefuls. Campaigning against prominent political forces, such as the CUDP and PPM and even longstanding independents like Ezzard Miller, seemingly discourages others from pursuing office.

While a minority of elected officials has made invaluable contributions to society, there are also incumbents who have abused their privileged parliamentary powers and positions of responsibility for personal and self-interested reasons. This is the very type of representation we ought to not tolerate, but we continue to do so as a result of our political apathy.

A term limit in itself cannot deter misconduct in public office. Only an enactment of such legislation can prohibit corrupted officials from seeking re-election.

However, the reality regarding term limits being imposed in Cayman is that it probably won’t materialise. How many politicians could you envision having support for such a notion?

Maybe one. Perhaps none whatsoever.

What’s more disappointing is that even if an incumbent sought to pass the motion, the probability of it gaining unanimous parliamentary approval is very slim. Prolonging their engrossment in their own lavish lives as elected members is their primary self-serving interest.

In my view, no political candidate or party has the spine to enshrine such legislation as it would be to their own detriment.  Understandably, neither the PPM nor the CUDP reserve any interest in pursuing such a policy. Term limits would inevitably loosen the tight grips on power.

As an electorate, we have become far too complacent with the status quo. These Islands still face a myriad of unresolved complex social and economic issues that have persisted decade after decade. Yet, we continue to place our confidence in those who have consistently demonstrated their incapacity to rectify the most pressing matters in our society.

Category: Politics, Viewpoint

Comments (49)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    At 60 years of age, I have yet to cast my vote for an honourable candidate. They are too self serving and now they have deemed themselves honourable for life, I will probably exit this world having never voted.




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  2. Anonymous says:

    The comments are spot on. The enjoy self appointed cash n travel benefits .
    even as we all now have to work til 65 years old to maybe get some pension funds..and limited amounts at that!
    Shame




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  3. Avid reader says:

    A term limit makes sense.

    Normal deductions for health and insurance also make sense. Especially in these areas, Politicians should not be treated in differently from the people they serve. Some families are struggling as they are earning low salaries, further displaced after high deductions for dependents (not all employers contribute a portion for a dependent – in such cases, a single mother practically pays the equivalent of a mortgage in the form of insurance payments for dependents). These are the people that politicians say they are “looking out for” at the time of reelection. The truth is that long serving politicians are only interested increasing their personal net worth.

    Regarding how people vote, it seems that many still vote for family and friends and not for policy and solutions. How does this practice impact the caliber of people elected?

    About policy after election, we must be honest with the process: draft legislation goes to various associations and practitioners for comment and revision. Many of the people who are asked for their input are not voters themselves. Instead they are partners in law firms, accounting firms and other bodies. Eventually they will become caymanian and be eligible to vote but their influence on policy is great and starts now.

    This is the reality.

    Let’s not make changes for the sake of making a change which results in perennial Self serving outcomes for individual politicians.

    We need action that sees the country grow and sustain itself economically over a long term, with several plan Bs in place.

    We need to punish bad actors by enforcing laws. There is a whistleblower law and an anti corruption law. Make them more than pieces of paper.

    We also need to make officials accountable. How can a government go several years without a proper audit of financials? They cannot, by any ounce of imagination, know the real financial standing of the country when they report a purported surplus if they are unsure about years of accounts in the first place.

    Let’s be honest with each other and do what needs to be done. And don’t just vote – aim to get involved between election years in the issues that affect the country.




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    • Conscience says:

      Well um, when are you running?

      If you can find 12-15 other people who think like you we might have a future!

      #ThinkAboutIt




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  4. Anonymous says:

    I do not agree that term limits are needed for our politicians; with our small population base we would soon run out of local candidates , then I guess we would need to import our MLAs. Term limits could also rob a constituency of the chance to get a capable and desirable candidate. In the boxing world you have to beat the champion to take his belt. If a candidate is still capable of doing the job then anyone who wants his seat should have to beat him at the polls and take it from him. If we need proof that term limits are unnecessary to introduce fresh faces to the arena , then look no further than the last election. In the 2013 elections 9 out of 18 MLAs chosen were not in the house in the previous term; 8 out those were first timers. So without term limits half of the total number of MLAs were newcomers. However with newbies we also can expect some surprises such as happened towards the end of last year when 2 of the newcomers who had been supporting the ruling party for three years, decided to abandon them. I put a lot of weight on the fact that they were in experienced and were not prepared for what actually goes on in the LA.( I hope so because it would really be unfortunate if their real reason for doing so was to distance themselves from a party that they feel will not win in 2017- what if the next group they join suffers the same fate , will they again abandon ship) In 1988 we had another newcomer ( Franklin Smith) who resigned after about 6 months. What we need from would be MLAs is for them to present themselves early and to be community leaders before seeking office. Too often we have candidates presenting themselves 2 months before the election and expect voters to learn all about them in that shrt and frantic time. They maybe good candidates and well known in their work or social circle but totally unfamiliar outside these groups. e,g we had a pretty good group of candidates who were unsuccessful in the last election but have disappeared since then. So in summing up -there is no need for term limits, just better prepared candidates.




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    • Conway says:

      We need better representation, honest and hard-working people are needed at the forefront. We also need real women with vision to lead this Country.

      Too many cocks in the hen house!




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  5. Sanders says:

    I total agree with your comments. However, who are the bright talanted young caymanians that country first before self. When last have you seen two of the George Town representatives a local function? Or the crooked Bodden Towner that is on the radio praising what he will do if he gets into office? Why not start from now? In a small population in cayman, it would be better that the British takes full control, we start to pay income taxes and do away with the rubbish of being called a tax free jurisdiction. Has anyone seen the cost of milk or pay for a Burger King value meal?




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    • Anonymous says:

      Have you been to other countries before? While Cayman is not the cheapest, we are far from the most expensive. Big cities have a higher cost of living and other small islands are far more expensive than the Cayman Islands and more difficult for expats to own property, get citizenship and get jobs. Cayman is the easiest place in the world to get a job and citizenship for a foreigner.




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  6. Anonymous says:

    I think the new MLA’s mean good until after they get elected and see how easy it is to become corrupt and not be held responsible for any of their deeds. After awhile they then catch the disease “Intense confusion” and no matter how many times they are elected going forward there is no hope for them so I think one term for most of them is sufficient.

    Only God can help us with this problem!!!!!! Good luck.




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  7. REALITY CHECK says:

    The old guard, the long serving MLAs are addicted to getting TWO salaries while the new ones hope to one day get to that position. MLAs have come to expect 1 salary for being a duly elected and sitting MLA, the other is taking today the pension they are due in retirement (yes, it is literally a 2nd salary). Double the pay for a single job. Maybe this is legal (they make the laws) but it is ethically wrong. Wrong when we can’t afford teachers or school supplies. Wrong when we can’t ensure the hospital pharmacy has enough medicine. None of our legislators are interested in amending the laws to fix this issue.

    Too many people who can’t earn $8k/ month by earning a job in private sector or even public sector, who couldn’t run their own businesses profitably and competitively somehow are elected by us and then take home $10,000 per month as backbench members Cabinet members take home $12,000 per month at a minimum. All receive an additional $2-3,000 allowance for the MLA offices. All receive a 10% pension and NO deduction for medical insurance. Seriously not a bad deal would you implement term limits if you were a MLA? Getting elected is a way to make money and live a high life rather than a way to serve the public. Too many persons currently elected cannot survive in the work place so they run for politics, win a seat and get set up for life with lucrative benefit packages and big salaries while they fail to provide value for money. No one wants to have term limits or have any change to the status quo because the money and opportunities to make *more* money thru networking and get early access to new business opportunities is greater than any other job in the Cayman Islands. Examine those MLA’s and their net worth after being elected and serving a two term minimum. Consider their land holdings, the register of interests and the partnerships they develop whilst serving as a MLA. Of course many simply pretend they don’t benefit from their family’s business interests.

    The sad fact is that nobody in the game of politics wants term limits or any real changes to the status quo. Financiers have invested too much in their politicians and need to guarantee a Return on their Investment. Look at the decisions that are made and the projects and policies that are pursued by successive elected governments and then ask if the current government is doing anything different?

    Corruption is systemic in the Cayman Islands and takes various forms. The profiteers need the system to remain as is. Hence, the concepts of term limits, accountability, transparency, and good governance remain as buzz words. There are too many feeding and profiteering (elected and non-elected persons including senior civil servants) at the trough with government contracts, public funds and the give aways called concessions up for grabs to political supporters, financiers, family members, business partners and friends as a quid pro quo.

    If we want change, then we need to insist on accountability, insist on transparency and vote differently.




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    • Anonymous says:

      “Reality Check” thank you for breaking it down and speaking truth to power




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    • Anonymous says:

      @12:33pm exposing the Cayman reality!




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    • Anonymous says:

      Reality Check- name one current MLA who ‘cannot survive in the work place’. Truth is this is all your bigoted opinion. You would not dare publish this in the local newspaper under your own name because you might be asked to prove your accusations. Perhaps you would be happier if the MLAs were all UK nationals, then of course there would be no talk of corruption or nepotism. Right?




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  8. Anonymous says:

    expats need to be allowed to vote and be elected……
    cayman is missing out on its brightest and best…..




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    • A. Native says:

      Never! We don’t need expats and their bigoted views interfering in our politics. Cayman is for Caymanians we’ll figure our country out. If expats were the best of the best they would have stayed in their own country.

      If expats do not like it they can go home since Caymanians are not begging anyone to stay. Life is about choices




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    • Anonymous says:

      Nowhere else in the world is this allowed and it should not start in the Cayman Islands.




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    • Anonymous says:

      11.19am Best at what? Best for who? But you certainly have identified what this Viewpoint is all about i.e putting expats in control of the Cayman Is Legislative assembly.




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      • Blue Iguana says:

        Clearly, you haven’t read the article I took the time to write. In no way, shape or form did I state nor suggest that expatriates take over our political system.

        It disappoints me that your misconceived notion is all you took away from it.




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    • Sea Egg says:

      If an expat has to come to Cayman to get elected what does it say about him/her. Certainly if they cant do some good for their own countrymen (by being elected in their home country), we do not need them here.They certainly will not be seeking office to better the lives of Caymanians , you can bet on that.




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      • Anonymous says:

        Sea Egg I agree with your observation.

        Why not do a historical check of founding members of the current political parties and determine if and how many were started and or highly influences, perhaps controlled by failed politicians from Jamaica and if they are also involved in the parties and C4C (a political action committee PAC)?




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    • Nunya says:

      Excuse me – I can’t go to any expats county and vote. If that was the case Mr. Trump would not have made it as far as he has.




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  9. Anonymous says:

    Term limits may well be just what we need in the Cayman Islands to ensure that those who run and are elected carryout their promised manifestos and as such know then from the get go that there is a time frame to do so and if not then it is certain that they would not be able to retain a seat after a number of terms. I recommend two terms maximum (8 years).

    There are TOO MANY dead beet MLAs who get elected on the band wagon syndrome each election and are in Parliament to WARM their seat, collect a hefty SALARY and of course later a hefty PENSION from the public purse.

    In addition, I would go as far as to also recommend a reduction in MLA salaries because as they stand they are ridiculously over compensated for the actual work they carryout in their elected term(s) and these salaries are literally draining the public purse year after year.




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    • Nunya says:

      Even a system where representatives were forced to take a 1 or 2 term break after serving 2 terms would be better. That way it would allow new blood to have a chance to prove themselves. We may be too small of a country to have 2 terms only – but something’s gotta give!!!!




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  10. Anonymous says:

    Cayman’s passive electorate suffers from chronic amnesia enabled by local media that only report what they are told and never challenge political transgressions with tough questions or hold past records to account when they attempt to run again. Added to this, there seems not to be any functional mechanism to remove self-serving offenders from office or Will to ban them even after the fact when confronted with all the various chapters and evidence. As it stands now, term limits would only define a maximum duration of kleptocracy, and redouble the efforts of the usual suspects to feather their nests and serve themselves as much as possible within their remaining time frame. When the Speaker of the House is a serving member of one of the parties, it’s a kind of preposterous theater where nobody expects to ever be challenged. This is how they enjoy a very comfortable and rigged existence.




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  11. Nodda Munnigrubber says:

    Blue Iguana, I think your ob$ervation, “Prolonging their engro$$ment in their own lavi$h live$ a$ elected member$ i$ their primary $elf$erving intere$t” $ay$ it all! $o obviou$. $o di$gu$tingly obviou$!




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  12. Anonymous says:

    Make it an unpaid job.




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    • Foreign Devil says:

      Then we will see who Luws the country………,,No they will then have to steal (more) to survive?




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  13. Anonymous says:

    I have been eligible to vote since 2001. I have not voted yet. When the honest ones show up, I will vote.
    I want no special interests and no secret societies please. Just call it as it is promise what you are able and if you hit some roadblocks, let us know.




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  14. Anonymous says:

    Amen




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  15. Anonymous says:

    It’s not restricted term limits you need, you could start with taking responsibility for your own actions and vote these dinosaurs out.
    I think it would be more financially and democratically expedient if you banned your MLA’s from retiring and re-standing for election and in so doing ‘double dip’ their public funded pension pots.
    Those countries you have highlighted aren’t exactly a paragon of democracy or good governance when it comes to restricted terms. You don’t have a president so that rule clearly doesn’t apply.

    No, have the guts to stand up and stand for office, stop whining that the incumbent isn’t playing fair and get his/her expansive butts out of their ill fitting seats.




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  16. Anonymous says:

    I agree with you. I am often discouraged with taking part in Cayman’s politics because the political establishment and landscape remains forever the same. You can talk about progress and modernization all you want but this is meaningless if the political perception cannot be changed.

    Introducing term limits would be a great first step and would provide so much substantial benefit to Cayman Islands. Younger and new politicians can have a fair chance of steering the country. Furthermore, term limits offer an incentive to ministers to be much more effective with their governmental actions and more efficient with their spending and decision making.

    I also think that the limited two party system in the Cayman Islands needs to be revamped. It is foolish and severely limiting to have the political representation of the Islands to two parties. Having more political parties gives variety of political opinion as well as encourage more political dialogue. You can look at the United States to see the problem with the two party system. Any other independent or third party has little to no chance of holding office and the population is stuck with choosing between the lesser of two evils by the time of voting.




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  17. Anonymous says:

    dont know how term limits would work with our low population numbers. the examples you give are of countries that have millions to choose from. some of us might even question if some that we have now should be there




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    • Anon says:

      Quite the contrary. If you took the time to research it, you would know that term limits are not exclusive to countries with large populations.




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      • Anonymous says:

        so we have limited quality candidates to choose between and you think it makes sense to tie our hands even more.




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  18. MM says:

    Fireworks and balloons for this post – spot on.

    And the hesitancy and refusal to consider enacting legislation that caps a politician’s term allowance is further evidence that the members we currently have sitting are selfish and self-serving. They are obviously running for office with their own gain in full and absolute view with the complete understanding that they have a slim chance of ever having another “job” again, or in some cases – even being qualified or competent enough to get one!




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    • Anonymous says:

      MM what we need to do is elect ‘paper Caymanians’. They will certainly be able to get another job if not reelected and won’t have large numbers of relatives to cater to.




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      • Anonymous says:

        But technically there are many that ar already paper Caymanians: McKeeva, Kurt, Tara Rivers etc. there’s many more That were not born in Cayman and from Tara’s ridiculous fiasco, she opened the floodgates to non residents too.




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  19. Anonymous says:

    How about removing the long term benefits first. Serve for the good of your people.
    Seperate pension – everyone being elected now should be coming from a job with a pension and would continue to contribute if they changed job. That is all getting elected is. So sontinue to payinto your pension plan. No need for a seperate (non-contributary?) plan. When no longer an MLA then back to the work force and keep contributing.
    Health care – why does this continue after serving???? Not needed. No different than the rest of us.
    Titles – none should be retained after your service is finished.

    I’m sure that there are others.




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    • Anonymous says:

      Pension collection/usage should not be allowed until the former MLA reaches pensionable age and only should be contributory not defined and definitely not a percentage of salary indefinitely. Being an elected member should not be a retirement scheme.




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  20. Pit Bull says:

    Tawdry Americanism. Keep such foolishness from British land.




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