Electoral reform could ‘engage younger people’

PRESSING ahead with electoral reform could help to engage younger people in politics, a States Senator has said.

Senator Sam Mézec. Picture: ROB CURRIE. (30645794)
Senator Sam Mézec. Picture: ROB CURRIE. (30645794)

Senator Sam Mézec said that the ‘complexity of the electoral system and lack of party system’ may explain young people’s apathy towards the States Assembly.

Recent statistics compiled by vote.je and the States Assembly Diversity Forum highlighted that the States Chamber was not representative of Jersey’s population, with just 37% of States Members being under the age of 60, a figure which compares to 71% of Jersey’s adult population.

Senator Mézec said: ‘Ultimately, the best States Assembly will be one that looks like the people it represents.’

The Reform Jersey leader, who in 2014 became one of the youngest ever Members elected to the Assembly at the age of 23, said it was ‘extremely important that young people are represented’ and they should not be ‘excluded’.

The topic of electoral reform is due to be debated next week, with the proposed make-up of the future Assembly comprising 49 States Members, split between 37 Deputies elected across nine voting districts and 12 parish Constables. The plans – which have already been approved in principle by the Assembly – would scrap the Islandwide Senator role.

An amendment to the proposition from Senator Ian Gorst aims to keep the Senators, while a further amendment to that from Senator Lyndon Farnham would add another three Deputies to the Chamber.

Senator Mézec said he did not support either of the amendments.

‘I think young people are not apathetic when it comes to political issues but they are part of the general apathy when it comes to our elections,’ he said, adding that he believed the changes outlined in the original proposition would help to remedy this.

‘Electoral reforms will make it a much simpler electoral system and encourage new candidates to give it a go.’

Meanwhile, political parties could provide help and training to young people running their campaigns, he said. Jersey has two political parties including Reform Jersey, of which Senator Mézec is the political head and which also includes Deputies Carina Alves, Montfort Tadier, Geoff Southern and Rob Ward. The other party is the recently formed Progress Party, led by Senator Steve Pallett, Deputy Steve Luce and former Deputy Eddie Noel.

Senator Mézec said: ‘We will need people with different life experiences to reflect how different parts of our community feel on certain issues.’

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