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Monday, 11 July 2011

"A Point Well Made"

This erosion of rights should at least be put to a referendum

From Anthony Webber.

I HAVE heard the news about the unsuccessful attempt by a number of Jersey States Members to halt the approval by the Privy Council of the Jersey States to reduce the number of Senators.
This is a scandalous state of affairs, as it is effectively politicians voting out of office fellow politicians who have a wider democratic mandate than them.
I was the last democratically elected Island-wide politician in the Bailiwick of Guernsey and Alderney.
We had exactly the same situation in Guernsey, where our fellow politicians voted the Island-wide politicians out of office, with no mandate from the people.

I was in fact voted into the office of Conseiller in a by-election with one other candidate where the key issue was whether the electorate wanted to keep Island-wide politicians or not, and won convincingly. All opinion polls in Guernsey since then have shown that the public want to have Island-wide elected politicians, even though our States continues to reject this, largely through the self-interest of individual politicians, and the same appears to be the case in Jersey.
In Guernsey, there was at least an effort to compensate electors for removing the right to vote in 12 members of the States on an Island-wide basis because all electoral districts were made up of six or seven seats. This is not the case in Jersey because there are still the individual Constables, where only the electors in the parish can vote for them.

I would suggest that there is still the opportunity for the campaigners to keep the Senators as they are to ask to be seen by the Privy Council, so they can put forward the case for the maintenance of the status quo.

This can be done on the basis of requesting no change on the democratic voting rights of the people of Jersey until either these proposals are put to a referendum, or there is consultation on the various different means by which the Jersey States can be made up and how those members should be voted in. The Electoral Reform Society could be asked to undertake such review and consultation on behalf of the States of Jersey.

In Guernsey we never approached the Privy Council in the right way to stop the erosion of our democratic voting rights, but it seems that it is not too late to prevent this appalling scandal being got away with.

Guernsey still has no mechanism for referenda, as the amendment I had passed in the States overwhelmingly in 2003 to bring this about has still not become Law. In Guernsey we had to have two-thirds majority for constitutional changes, and it seems to me that as this issue was only lost by one vote (with one abstention) that there is a strong argument for both the Lt. Governor and the Privy Council to delay this proposal until there has been a proper mandate from the electorate.

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