Election reform

ELECTIONS REFORM

These 21-candidate elections have shown once again that the system is broke. You try setting out the new political philosophy the island needs – green economics – in 3 minutes and answering complex questions in 30 seconds!!

Few now support our present election system. (see MORI Survey on Electoral Reform  2007). Start from first principles. I would point out that while the principles are simple, the detail is complex. A good reason for having clear-headed people in the States.

The principles are:

  • proportionality
  • “your vote counts” – representation
  • involvement

general election date.

All members to be elected on the same day. This was the clear preference of the public as expressed via the MORI poll. So why was it ignored? At a stroke this would abolish 21 candidate elections, as no-one would be able to stand in the senatorials, and then cascade down to the deputy elections one month later if they failed to get in.

Elections could however be 1/4 of members each year, to keep new blood coming in and to allow voters to move the assembly regularly in the direction they want it to go.

proportionality

The present situation is manifestly unfair. A St. Mary’s voter is worth approximately 3 1/2 St. Clement voters. Proportionality is the first requirement of any election system. This has to be fixed if we are to re-establish any sort of trust in the system.

representation
All States members deal with issues facing the whole island. They have to take a whole-island view. This is hard to square with a small parish like Trinity or St. Mary having 2 representatives in the States.

Voters need to know that their vote counts and also, in a good election system, people vote for who they really want, not trying to guess who are the possibles for getting in, and then voting for what they do not really want. This can be achieved via some form of transferable voting.

Thr right to tegister a protest vote is important, “none of them are worth voting for.” For my letter to the JEP on ballot papers see “re-open nominations” option on ballot papers.

Clothier
Many candidates have been saying: “implement Clothier” and pointing out that the States is incapable of reforming itself.

Indeed! The questionnaire drawn up by Privileges and Procedures was totally inept – the first option  proposed to people over the phone was for a general election for a States Assembly consisting of 30 Senators. This would produce 100-candidate elections!

At present I think that multi-member constituencies dividing the island into say 4 or 5 areas would produce manageable and fair elections, but I would pledge to a) read carefully and consider all the options b) talk this through with my “sounding board” of  electors (see ABOUT ME page, paragraph on Integrity 2/3 of the way down). As I said above this stuff is not simple, and it is easy to get lost.

The Constables in the States
Clothier was basically sunk by the “roadshow” which went around the Parishes which showed a majority of those turning up to be in favour of retaining the Constables in the States. So the States promptly abandoned Clothier. Without finding out what the other 95% of the population think! Not democracy, I am afraid.

Yes I do value the Constables’ role, and the Parish system will play a leading role in our transition towards a  better more community-based future but I would need to be convinced that their role as community leader and their role in the States go together very well. Fellow-Green candidate Mark Forskitt’s idea that Constables should have the right to speak in any debate affecting their parishioners, but not vote, has a lot to commend it, as part of moving towards a system with one class of member (deputy) and a general election  (or 1/4 elected each year)

See democracy for further ideas to improve the way States and people cooperate in our island.

Responses

  1. In my opinion, there are contradictions in what you propose. For example, an election of a quarter of States members at a time is NOT a general election. Rather like the present system, it would make it extremely difficult to bring about a change of government.

  2. Dear Michael…
    There are no contradictions – only considerations and suggestions.
    A general view that the current system is not politically democratic, and that the issue of states reform needs to be further discussed and acted upon in the near future.

  3. Hmmmm

    Say there were 36 States members.

    It strikes me that if 9 come up for re-election each year, that in effect gives the possibility of major change every year.

    If the island were divided into 3 constituencies, West, Centre and East (note that each of these would contain urban and rural areas), then at each election there would be 3 seats to be filled.

    If a suitable voting system were adopted, you could get quite close to matching people’s desires to who gets elected. Very important that each elector has someone representing them that they feel they can go to if needs be.

    All the above suggested by someone who came to the RJAHS “meet the candidates” session this Sunday.

    I agree that maybe such an annual election does not qualify for the term “general election”, what I meant was, no cascading elections in any given year.

    Daniel


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