Who's going to cling onto power? Could Constables be the new Senators? And can we beat Boris at 'party games'?
Welcome to Politics Disassembled, where Express takes the goings-on of the States Assembly and, well, disassembles them.
After our first edition disassembling last week’s States Assembly meeting, we've been asked to disassemble what the heck will be happening at what’s set to be Jersey’s weirdest election yet.
We've broken things down here, and got together a 'Game of Thrones' podcast special. Enjoy...
So, what's different this time round? There'll still be 49 States Members, but the make-up of the overall States Assembly will change.
Previously, the island had 29 Deputies, each representing a parish. Some big parishes were split up into smaller zones - like St. Helier, St. Saviour and St. Brelade - and had more than one representative.
However, it was decided that the boundaries should be redrawn to make elections fairer (a closer look at those below). That's because, over time, populations changed. While the country parishes tend to be more sparsely populated, town holds the majority of the population. It makes sense that there should be more representatives for areas with more people.
There's a twist, though - you don't have to live in the place you're standing. So, in theory, someone who lives in St. Ouen could stand in Grouville or St. Clement, where there currently appear to be seats 'free', even if they have no connection to the parish...
There were previously eight Senators - their remit was to consider island-wide issues, rather than focusing on one parish or zone. As a result, these were individuals that all islanders could vote for, not just people living in a specific area.
It meant such candidates, obviously, always got huge numbers of votes, usually in excess of 10,000 - whereas Deputies may be elected on a few hundred.
With this in mind, poll-topping Senators were always in line for a Ministerial, or even Chief Ministerial role. Those who don't make the Council of Ministers cut usually become senior Scrutineers. Just look at the familiar names among 2018's crop.
But we're now saying goodbye to them, and instead we'll have more Deputies - 37 in total.
Some critics think that, on an island where participation in elections is woefully low, that removing Senators will prove a huge backward step. Silly though it sounds, part of the argument is that it's easier to get excited about a candidate that looks at island-wide issues rather than parish-based problems.
Anyone in the current crop of Senators wanting to run again is going to have to do so as Deputy or Constable.
Not only is that potentially emasculating, but also leaves those who may have forgotten 'home' during their Senatorial run in trouble. How will they woo those on their patch?
Most Senators rose up the ranks as Deputies, so will they go back to their roots? Or will Constable become the new 'Senator'?
After years of battling over whether the role should stay, it was decided that the head of the parish was something too 'Jersey' to lose.
Unlike Deputies, anyone standing for Constable must live in the parish.
It's been suggested that low voter engagement is linked with people simply not being bothered to learn about each and every candidate that stands. The idea of a party is, even without knowing the individual challenger inside out, you get a sense of what they stand for... Could this be key to getting more people interested in voting?
Current contenders, by the order in which they emerged, are: Reform Jersey, the Progress Party, the Jersey Alliance and the Jersey Liberal Conservatives.
Islanders will now be able to vote for 'None of the above' if there are the same number or fewer candidates than the number of positions available.
Some state that it's a good protection against Jersey's oft-criticised uncontested elections of the past... others believe that it is a recipe for chaos.
In total, there are now nine electoral districts.
Based on the crop of States Members we have now, and excluding those who have said they’re not standing again, here’s an idea of how each new battleground might look...
This zone was once three separate parishes, each with their own Deputy.
Under the new system, they’ve been combined to create a triple-threat district which could be one of the biggest battlegrounds. There are four positions up for grabs.
If they choose to stand again, we could see the return of Deputies…
But, factoring in the loss of Senators, it gets very interesting, with three big hitters potentially challenging this patch.
Chief Scrutineer Kristina Moore, a former Home Affairs Minister, started her political career as Deputy of St. Peter in 2011 and also lives in the parish. For her, the decision to return to St. Peter would seem obvious.
But might she go after the Constable’s chair? The incumbent, Richard Vibert, was elected unopposed. A near poll-topping Senator would surely be in a strong position to take that throne.
For Senators Ian Gorst and Lyndon Farnham, things are more complex.
Former Chief Minister and current External Relations Minister Senator Gorst started his political career as a Deputy of St. Clement in 2005, but currently lives in St. Ouen.
Senator Farnham, the Economic Development Minister, was firstly a St. Saviour representative, but is also a St. Ouen dweller.
Will they return to their Deputy roots, represent the community in which they live, or go rogue? Remember, only Constables have to live in the parish or district they want to represent – Deputies have no such obligation.
It’s also worth remembering that, after Constable Richard Buchanan announced that he would be leaving political life after a single term, there is now an open spot for Constable of St. Ouen.
When Constable Buchanan was elected, that seat was also uncontested… an easy win for one of our Senators?
This triple-threat district is potentially even spicier.
This new area is home to three Assistant Ministers, the Home Affairs Minister, a poll-topping former Education Minister and the Chief Minister himself… but there are only four seats available.
Current Deputies who would fall into this area are…
Former Education Minister Senator Tracey Vallois, who was both a Deputy of St. John and lives there, has previously suggested she will not return to politics. Should she follow through, there will be one less challenger for the terrain.
If not, it could significantly intensify the seat fight.
After all, Senator Vallois topped the Senatorial poll in 2018 with more than 15,000 votes – around 10 times more than the highest ranked candidate in the new district, Kirsten Morel, who had 1,499.
Given the glut of potential candidates, Chief Minister Senator John Le Fondré (Alliance Party), who was first elected to his home parish of St. Lawrence in 2005, may be in a bit of a quandary.
To help pave the way for his return, might an Alliance Party Deputy step out of the area? Or will the party aim for a near-clean sweep in the parish?
Some believe that, whichever path he treads, the Chief Minister risks being unseated, while others say it’s ridiculous to believe the third highest polling Senator in the 2018 election with more than 12,000 votes, won’t get another turn.
Previously two separate zones with one and two politicians respectively, St. Brelade is now a single zone with four.
Sitting States Members that would currently fall into this area are Deputies…
Alliance candidate Piers Sangan has declared that he will be standing in the parish.
Current Constable of the Parish, Mike Jackson, was elected unopposed in 2018, taking over from Steve Pallett.
Unable to stand as Senator again, could St. Brelade resident Senator Pallett go for his old position? He clearly still has an interest in the parish, having clashed with his successor over the fate of the HideOut takeaway kiosk.
Then there’s a question of how, should she choose to stand, Senator Sarah Ferguson will fit in. She was once a Deputy of the parish and lives there too.
This ‘new’ area is broadly equivalent to the old St. Helier 1 area, which covers town, the Waterfront and Havre des Pas. Click HERE to see a map of the previous St. Helier voting districts.
Currently in the area are…
That leaves room for one more.
In the previous election, the trio sold themselves as a ‘package’ – a team who worked well together to secure the best outcome for individuals living in that area.
But party politics brings a new dynamic… Will the ‘alliance’ crumble in favour of party loyalty?
This area’s closet equivalent is the former St. Helier 2, which used to have three Deputies. However, with Rouge Bouillon and People’s Park now thrown in, now there are five seats to play for.
In 2018, it was a clean sweep for Reform Jersey, with newcomers Deputies Carina Alves and Rob Ward joining veteran Geoff Southern.
But it’s also party leader Senator Sam Mézec’s old patch. Will it be a homecoming for the Senator to ensure the area stays red?
‘North’ is the closest equivalent of the former St. Helier 3/4, and includes the areas of Mont à L’Abbé and First Tower.
In theory, there’s room for everyone elected into 3/4 to stay, if they wish to face election again.
The current Deputies are…
With their existing swell of popularity in St. Helier 2 – soon to be known as 'Central' – Reform Jersey are expected to put up a big fight for as many seats as they can secure in the other St. Helier zones.
And it may well be a successful tactic – the party has consistently placed a strong focus on housing, with Senator Mézec himself a former Housing Minister, and St. Helier is the island’s most populous and densely built parish, with high numbers of renters likely to sympathise with their bid to stop the crisis.
Meanwhile, Simon Crowcroft has firmly held the role of Constable for more than 20 years. Does anyone have the mettle to challenge him?
Once split into districts, St. Saviour has been made whole again.
As above, there is enough room for all the current Deputies…
However, as another densely populated parish, Reform are likely to attempt to gain ground in the zone, though no candidates have been declared as standing in the area as yet.
Mary O’Keeffe – who has previously unsuccessfully stood in the parish – has also thrown her hat into the ring for the Alliance Party. With a party banner behind her, could this be the moment of success?
As for Constable, Sadie Le Sueur Rennard was previously thought to be stepping down, having completed 10 years in the role.
No one else has suggested they’ll contest the position – maybe over fears of standing against an icon of the parish, States Assembly (mostly for calling the Bailiff “ma luv” despite a telling off), and wider island (who can forget that Liberation Day rendition of Beautiful Jersey?).
It’s a big level up for St. Clement – the boundaries aren’t changing, but the parish has been treated to more seats.
Again, we’re likely to see a Reform push here. However, with the Alliance Party already potentially with two seats in the bag, might they attempt a clean sweep?
These were previously two separate parishes, each with one Deputy. Now they’ve been pushed together, there’s an extra seat.
That means there’s enough room for both sitting Deputies to return…
With an extra seat free, might a current Senator slot into this potentially safe haven? Potentially, but it's unclear how the parishioners will take it if they don't have any parish connection...
When it comes to Constables, in St. Martin, Karen Shenton-Stone is in charge, while the Grouville seat has now been freed up after John Le Maistre announced his departure.
Carolyn Labey, whose ‘Les Grouvelles’ social group for women in the parish has grown to more than 300 members, admitted in a parish newsletter she was toying with the idea of moving to Constable. However, will her view have changed after ‘Singing Postman’ Mark Labey said he would be going for the role?
If you’re not sure which district you fall into, there’s a very helpful tool that will help you. Click HERE to work it out.
Politics is power, and on this week's Politics Disassembled podcast, we played a bit of Game of Thrones, States-style, with Constable Andy Jehan. Click to listen...
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