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Here we go again... Politicians to (re)debate return of Senators

Here we go again... Politicians to (re)debate return of Senators

Wednesday 27 September 2023

Here we go again... Politicians to (re)debate return of Senators

Wednesday 27 September 2023

It's that time of year again... Not when Christmas decorations start prematurely appearing on the shelves of local shops (although that is happening too), but when debate over whether to change the make-up of the States Assembly crops up.

Next month, on 17 October, politicians will once again vote on whether to reinstate the role of Senator.

Deputy Moz Scott has lodged a proposition calling for the return of the island-wide mandate, and asking for the number of Deputies to be reduced in time for the General Election in 2026.

In the report explaining the rationale for her proposals, Deputy Scott argued that the return of Senators would "improve specialised representation of island-wide interests", enable States Members to focus on local community/constituency representation or other common-interest representation", and "better enable States Members to adopt a particular work focus without experiencing concerns that they are not paying sufficient attention to other areas of work performed by States Members".

She added that the structure of the Assembly "needs to avoid... overloading States Members with an excessive number of roles at the expense of their wellbeing", "overweighting constituency or Parish representation" or "requiring excessive resourcing within the States Greffe to support duplication of roles."

Moz Scott 850x500.jpg

Pictured: Deputy Moz Scott, who is leading the latest bid to bring back Senators.

If politicians agree with her stance, she requests that all of the amending legislation to make the change a reality should be brought forward for approval by the Assembly before July 2025.

Haven't we been here before?

It was only last year that Jersey had its first election without Senators following an historic change to the electoral system which resulted in the most diverse Assembly ever seen.

But the change didn't please all States Members – or members of the public.

Before the election, former Senator Ben Shenton rallied against the removal of his previous post, while, mere hours after being sworn in as a district Deputies, former Senator Ian Gorst and Lyndon Farnham committed to ask the new States Assembly to bring back the island-wide mandate.

Gorst Mezbourian Farnham 850x500.jpg

Pictured: Deputies Gorst and Farnham worked together on a proposal to bring back the island-wide mandate by 2026, but it failed.

After more than five hours of debate some months later, States Members voted by 24-23 against Deputy Ian Gorst's proposition to bring back Senators.

Deputy Scott referred to the previous debate in her report.

Her proposition, she said, seeks to "address the comments made during the debate".

A solution to poor engagement?

Despite the major electoral system changes in 2022 – which also included the creation of new 'districts' and adding 'None of the above' as an option – voter turnout actually dropped.

There were 25,264 ballots cast in the election out of 60,678 islanders registered, making the voter turnout 41.6%, nearly two percentage points less than in 2018, according to figures released by The turnout in the previous election had been 43.4%.

Guernsey, meanwhile, saw the opposite happen when it changed its electoral system in 2020 to have all Deputies elected on an Island Wide Vote – the NEWS EYE: Guernsey's election experiment


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POLITICS DISASSEMBLED: Big battlegrounds in our weirdest election

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NEWS EYE: Guernsey's election experiment

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