People do want change !

Island-Wide Voting 2nd Report to the States

Ivan Rihoy     19th July 2010

We are very pleased that Deputy Ivan Rihoy has agreed to allow us to publish the full text of his recent speech to the States on Island Wide Voting, a subject which the Guernsey Form Group agree with wholeheartedly. Read the report in full here. What follows is an extract:

Let me please repeat these figures more than 80% of the people who responded wanted to elect the majority of their Government, not just by District or Parish each of our options allow this, surely they cannot be ignored!!

The majority of my Committee is of the view that no democratic electoral system can thrive, or even survive very long, without broad public support. And, very simply, such support does not exist for the present arrangements, but most certainly does exist for some form of island-wide voting.

In a moment, I will address each of the three options for electoral reform contained in the propositions on page 942 of our report. But at this point I wish to summarise more generally the case for island-wide voting, which the majority of our Committee regards as very compelling indeed.

The first point to make and, in many ways, the basis of the case for these proposals must be that democracy is best served when the electorate has the maximum say possible in electing how and by whom they are represented in a parliament, in our case in the States of Deliberation.

In Guernsey, as I have mentioned, a relatively small island with a relatively small population, such democracy can reasonably be obtained by conferring upon each elector, each member of the public, the right to elect some, most or even all of their representatives without the need for narrowing democratic choices via the imposition of constituency boundaries.

That is what the present system, without any provision for island-wide voting, actually does it narrows the exercise of democracy in a way that is unnecessary and unhelpful. It is true, of course, that today the vast majority of decisions made by the States of Deliberation relate to matters which are of relevance to the whole island, and not just to one or other of the parishes.

Therefore, and since in a democratic society parliament is the buckle that links the public to government, our democracy would be strengthened by replacing the sense of parochialism in the voting system with a recognition that this is one island with one electorate and one collective identity. Island-wide voting would also at a stroke strengthen the accountability of this Assembly.

At present, through no fault of their own, it is possible for members to be elected where they have particularly strong but very local support from within one parish, or district whereas they might not command broad support from among the island electorate as a whole; and importantly it is on behalf of that whole island electorate that elected representatives will be acting and voting.

Surely, Sir, accountability is about being accountable to all those on behalf of whom you are acting and if so, in Guernsey, that should mean the introduction of island-wide voting.

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Read the report in full here.

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Island-Wide Voting 2nd Report to the States.


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