Electoral reform: Why not ask the public?

IT should be left to Islanders to decide whether they want to retain States Members voted into office by the entire Island, Electoral Commissioners were told last night in St Ouen.

Less than 40 people attended the meeting in St Ouen
Less than 40 people attended the meeting in St Ouen

IT should be left to Islanders to decide whether they want to retain States Members voted into office by the entire Island, Electoral Commissioners were told last night in St Ouen.

The issue of keeping an Islandwide mandate was raised directly or alluded to several times last night as the Electoral Commission roadshow headed west for a public meeting in the parish hall which attracted an audience of 37.

Former Senator Jean Le Maistre threw down the gauntlet and challenged the commission to ask Islanders in a referendum whether Senators should be retained.

Senator Sir Philip Bailhache, the chairman of the commission said that he understood Mr Le Maistre's affection for the office of Senator, but said that voters would not be short-changed under the proposals.

Comments for: "Electoral reform: Why not ask the public?"

Tony B

What? Trust the electorate!

the thin wallet

ask the public?

ive just spat tea everywhere.

cough cough

Jerry Gosselin

The option to keep the Senators in the States IS ALREADY INCLUDED in the main referendum question which will ask whether you are in favour of super constituencies and reducing the number of States Members to 42. Quite simply, by answering 'YES' to that question, you are voting to remove the Senators from the States for good. You don't need to add a separate question! Obviously, if you wish to see Senators retain their seats, then you do the opposite and vote 'NO' to super constituencies. The same thing applies to the present parish constituencies, which will also be abolished under these plans. If you wish to continue to elect your representatives by PARISH rather than by super constituency, you vote 'NO' to super constituencies.

To add a further question asking if Senators should be retained could (in my opinion) possibly nullify the whole referendum result, resulting in chaos. This is because the electorate might decide to vote 'YES' to super constituencies (effectively abolishing the Senators and replacing their island mandates with super constituencies) but also 'YES' to keeping the Senators! I would therefore question whether such a question could legally and validly be added, unless it was an 'either/or' option (e.g. "tick one box only- super constituencies or Senators"). Of course there will also be another question asking whether or not to retain the Constables. If the answer was 'YES' to that as well as 'YES' to super constituencies and 'YES' to Senators, then on the face of it, the public would have rejected the Commission's proposals and voted to keep the present 3-member system of election, but to abolish individual parish seats and replace them with super constituencies and lower the number of States Members to 42. Given that the whole premise of these proposals is based on super constituencies being a midway compromise between islandwide and parish constituencies, with both the latter being abolished and replaced by a single type of member who would be elected at super constituency level, any juxtaposing answer to also retain Senators and/or Constables under such a reformed system would be no mandate at all for change. It would merely tell us what we already know- that the public are totally confused and divided on this issue and there is no popular sentiment in favour of these reforms.

For goodness sake- just put an end to this never-ending lunacy by voting 'NO' to super constituencies and then we get to keep both our parish and islandwide votes!

Scrutineer

This is the great mystery to me. Why did they not recommend a referendum on the senators at the same time as the constables? I have yet to see a proper explanation for this separate treatment of senators and constables.

The second mystery remains why they all need to be paid so much for representing, on average, roughly 2000 people each (if you take out triple representation) when a paid UK MP represents 70,000, and UK councillors do not get paid.

Pip Clement

I did not vote for Phillip Bailhache as I thought he was a reactionary old buzzard but I do support the proposed reform of the States.

Many of the people against the reform voted for him and are now opposing one of his major policy initiatives.

Funny old island! :-)

Dave

My only annoyance at all this is the same people turning up to these meetings with their usual anti-constable rants. Leave it to the public to decide by referendum and stop trying to speak for others is my message to them.

Sam

You obviously haven't been at any of these public meetings. Each meeting has had lots of speakers, and they've been fairly equal in pro-constable or anti-constable speeches.

But your second point is ridiculous. You can't have a public referendum without a public debate. If there is a vote, the public need to be well informed and be aware of all points of view on a subject so that they can decide which option they like best.

That means letting people who disagree with you get up and speak. It's pretty important in a democracy. The idea that because a votes been called we should just shut up and wait for the result is just so illogical.

Sam

The public ARE being asked in a referendum if they want to keep the role of Senator or not...

We're being given a vote on the commissions proposals, and those proposals include scrapping Senators. So if you vote for it, you're voting against Senators. That's simple enough, surely?