Guernsey electoral system is ‘bold’ but ‘wrong’ for Jersey

GUERNSEY’S electoral system is ‘bold’ and ‘interesting’ but would be inappropriate for Jersey, the St Helier Deputy spearheading calls for electoral reform has said.

Picture: ROB CURRIE. (29220467)
Picture: ROB CURRIE. (29220467)

Deputy Russell Labey, who chairs the Privileges and Procedures Committee, said he would be watching Guernsey’s new general election format closely this year but did not see it as a blueprint for Jersey.

The Privileges and Procedures Committee is responsible for the procedures of the States Assembly, for Members’ facilities and their code of conduct.

In a substantial change from district voting, all of Guernsey’s elected politicians will this year be chosen on an islandwide basis. With 119 candidates to choose from, the Guernsey electorate

will be asked to vote for a maximum of 38 people.

Deputy Labey – who has pushed for a radical overhaul of Jersey’s electoral system – congratulated Guernsey on making such a ‘bold’ change but said a system of that nature would not perform well here.

‘Well done to them for being bold. However, you are asking people to spend a lot of time going through manifestos,’ said the Deputy. ‘Ideally you want people to know the candidates well so that they can make an informed decision but, with a ballot paper of that length, how long before the voting selection becomes random?

‘In Jersey we have very low civic engagement,’ added the Deputy, who suggested that expecting Islanders to examine so many different candidates would only dissuade voter participation.

‘Well done to them and I am very interested to see what happens with it, but I wouldn’t recommend it for Jersey.’

In March, proposals from the PPC to remove the office of Senator, stop Constables from voting in the Chamber and have 46 Deputies elected across nine constituencies were rejected by 26 votes to 20. It was the latest effort in a long line of attempts to push electoral reforms through the Chamber. The results of a 2013 referendum on reform were never implemented.

Despite the defeated proposition earlier this year, Deputy Labey added that ‘there has to be an appreciation throughout the Assembly that we cannot keep going as we are’ and said that he would continue attempting to push reform through before the Island’s next election.

Any proposed overhaul of Jersey’s electoral system would need to be approved by May next year to comply with the Venice Commission which recommends that electoral law should not be amended too frequently or within one year of elections.

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