Mézec – and Reform – ride the rollercoaster to a Senatorial seat
REFORM Jersey chairman Deputy Sam Mézec survived by the skin of his teeth on a rollercoaster night for his party.
As each of the Senatorial results came in hope and expectation slowly gave way to despair at the Reform Jersey headquarters at the Mayfair Hotel as Deputy Mézec was left languishing in 11th place – well out of the top eight that would secure the Senatorial seats.
However, a surge in St Helier where he gained more than 1,000 votes on Moz Scott – who had spent much of the evening in the top eight – saw the party chairman sneak in and Ms Scott dealt the cruelest of election blows.
When the St Helier vote was declared shortly after 3 am, those hearty few that remained at the Mayfair erupted in celebration and song, hugs and kisses. Their leader was in – but by the tightest of margins.
He had – as Deputy Montfort Tadier put it – ‘pulled off an Ozouf’, referring to Senator Philip Ozouf’s nail-biting race for the final Senatorial spot in 2014.
Deputy Mézec by this stage was long gone – unavailable for comment – while his party colleagues crossed their fingers that the urban parishes would see him home.
The trials and tribulations of the evening had gotten too much for Senator-elect Mézec as it looked as if his decision to give up his safe St Helier seat for an Islandwide mandate had spectacularly backfired. By around 1 am he had gone home as it looked as though his political career was coming to a premature end.
Before the results came in, many had expected him to be near the top of the Senatorial polls but the writing appeared to be on the wall when the St Helier Deputy was left in 11th place after the first two Senatorial counts.
And Deputy Geoff Southern, the party’s vice chair, admitted that had Senator-elect Mézec been unsuccessful, Reform Jersey would have been facing a very uncertain future.
Senator-elect Mézec will be joined in the Chamber by fellow party members Deputy Southern, Deputy Tadier and two new faces from St Helier No 2 – Deputies-elect Rob Ward and Carina Alves.
Deputy Southern said: ‘I think we have made progress – small progress – less than we expected, but progress nonetheless.
‘We are on the inevitable path towards party politics.
‘I’m 67 now and seeing those two young people [Deputies-elect Ward and Alves] come forward and fight the good fight is pleasing to see.’
Discussing their chairman’s night, Deputy Southern added: ‘If the electorate had rejected Sam, who is the most talented and inspirational leader we could possibly have, then that would have been giving up on the future because Sam Mézec is the way forward.
‘Sam has been through the wringer tonight and I hope, thanks to the people around him because we are a team, I hope he will be able to continue with renewed vigour.’
When the dust has settled, Reform Jersey may be left to reflect on a night that ultimately promised much but failed to deliver the support for party politics that they had hoped it would. Reform Jersey have gained two new Deputies in St Helier – who if their hustings performances are anything to go by will be welcome additions to the States – but all their other candidates failed to challenge.
Once the final result was in, Deputy Tadier breathed a huge sigh of relief and joked in comments directed at Senator-elect Mézec to ‘not leave it so close next time’.
He said: ‘We have people campaigning in the districts. It has been a team effort and Sam left it a little bit late.
‘There was such a big gap in St Helier and that is indicative of the case work done in St Helier. St Helier is continually under-represented, as is St Clement.’
He also praised Deputy-elect Alves on becoming the first Portuguese dual national to gain a seat in the States.
When all is said and done, Reform Jersey survive – but only just.