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Monday, 22 October 2012


Move to six "super" constituencies is proposed
Senator Sir Philip Bailhache, Chairman Electoral Commission
Please see Trevor Pitman's blog for an alternative view!

A possible new look for Jersey's parliament has been revealed this morning.

Jersey could be divided into six electoral districts and there may be a referendum on whether or not the parish constables should automatically have a seat in the States.

The draft proposals come in a report from the Electoral Commission.

It is also suggested that the overall number of States members is reduced to 42 and that they should all be elected in a single general election every four years.

There'll be no single island constituency

The Commission has ruled out creating a single island constituency on the grounds that it would not be practical.

Instead it is proposed to divide the island into six constituencies - each with a roughly equal number of voters. If the constables are not to have a States role in future, then each constituency would have seven seats for deputies.

If constables continue to have an automatic seat in government, then the number of deputies in each constituency would be reduced to five. The role of Senator disappears.

By shrinking the size of parliament there would also have to be a corresponding cut in the number of ministers and assistant ministers to maintain a voting balance in the House.

Following Guernsey...

The suggestion of creating just six constituencies follows Guernsey's lead, where the change is reckoned to have been a success in moving away from a parochial outlook to a more all-encompassing breed of politicians.

The Commission also believe fewer constituencies will lead to a better understanding of island issues and debate about them at election time. It also means that candidates will have to secure a large number of votes to win.

At present, victory in the small districts can be gained with hundreds rather than thousands of votes. The change should also mean that every seat is contested, which is not always the case at present.

The proposed new districts are St Helier No 1 (13,960 voters); St Helier No 2 (12,900); St Clement, Grouville and St Martin (14,010); St Saviour and Trinity (12,960); St Lawrence, St John, St Mary and St Ouen (11,100), St Brelade and St Peter (12,600). The average numbers of voters per deputy would be 1,845.

There could also be a fundamental change in the election process with the present 'first-past-the-post' system replaced by a transferable voting system. That, it is argued, can prevent less popular candidates from being elected. The Commission has not yet made a recommendation on this issue.

A bigger role for scrutiny is also being looked at, to be sure that all proposed legislation is properly scrutinized before it becomes law.

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