States Assembly to debate electoral reform
23rd April 2019
Proposals have been published today to reform the constitutional makeup of the States Assembly, as well as the election process. The proposition is being brought to the table by the Privileges and Procedures Committee (PPC) – the body responsible for the procedures of the States Assembly, for Members' facilities and the code of conduct for Members.
The proposition aims to simplify the system, to ensure there is a contest for every seat and achieve fairer representation and equality in voting power. PPC has said this change would mean that Jersey’s electoral system is made compliant with Human Rights legislation,
UN Conventions on Human Rights and the Venice Commission ‘Code of Good Practice in Electoral Matters guidelines’.
The changes would establish one category of States Member (Deputies), with 46 Members elected from nine districts. Each district would elect five Deputies, apart from St. Saviour, which would elect six due to its higher population.
The role of Connétable (Constable) would cease to be a Member of the States Assembly but Connétables could stand as a Deputy if they wished. The role of Connétable would also still exist as the ‘head’ of the parish and parish activities would be totally unchanged by the proposal, such as refuse collections, honorary police and the parish rates system. The role of Senator – a States Member currently elected on an island-wide mandate – would also be discontinued in order to simplify the system.
In addition, an independent Boundaries Commission would be established to begin work after the 2022 election to make recommendations to ensure the nine districts remain compliant with human rights legislation. The establishment of the Commission would ensure population figures can be monitored and that adjustments are made in the future to maintain equality of voting powers.
The proposition is a direct response to a report by the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association‘s ‘Election Observation Mission Report’, which advised that Jersey:
- has an electoral system which is overly complicated and cumbersome
- has constituency boundaries not drawn in line with international standards
- has too high a number of uncontested seats in elections
- has disparity in the equality of the vote across districts and parishes
- has a low voter turnout
According to PPC, the reduction in the number of States Members would mean that current duties performed by the Assembly would be sustainable and that the Government could remain at 21 Ministers and Assistant Ministers while remaining in the minority.
The debate will take place on 4th June 2019 and you can
WATCH it LIVE here. In the meantime, you can
read PPC's proposition here.
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