Democracy, government and responsibility

The last few years have seen many proposals to reform or otherwise change the structure of the states and the election of States members. From the recommendations of the Clothier report through the sacking of a senator as minister, to the decision of 3 constables to renege on their agreement to stand down at this election, our electoral and governmental system is under stress.

How we organise elections, dismiss and remove elected members depends very much on what the system is expected to achieve. In a uni-cameral body like our States it is essential we get good decisions, as there is no check in place on poor decisions as there would be with a second chamber. It is well known in business that you don’t get good decisions by having a board of ’yes men’. You need a plurality of views and opinions and argue it out. Our States should emulate that with an electoral system that promotes a wide range of views in the assembly. Diversity again.

How do we achieve such diversity? As far as structure of the States goes having a variety of deputies, constables and senators with different loci of interests and concerns and timescales in office is a benefit. I see no pressing reason to change that aspect – there are more important things we have to focus on.

However the senatorial election seems skewed against diversity. If you happen to vote for a number of candidates, none of whom is elected, then you have not had any effective say and your views are not reflected at all. The gang with a slight majority is highly likely to take the overwhelming majority of senatorial seats. A single transferable voting system for senatorial candidates would give minority views a prospect of being represented among the elected members.

I am in favour of having all the States members in whatever capacity elected on the same day. I would like to see an anually election day -the same day every year where 1/3 rd of deputies, 1/3 of constables and 1/6th of senators are elected each year. I would make constables ex-officio, giving them the right to speak on their parochial matters, but not voting. I think it would be fitting to mark and remember the sacrifices that were made by our forbears to gain the vote by exercising that hard won democratic right on Liberation day.

Having said that, should there be no support for the above, I would have to support implementation of the Clothier report, and have all States members elected for a 4 year period in a general election.

Parochial administration with its elections for most posts, and assemblies for setting the rates and many other matters is as democratic local control as you could reasonably expect to find anywhere. Many places in the UK and further afield would love to have such local participation available to them. That local strength has to be maintained.

Separation of the dual roles of the Bailiff is essential.

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