Jersey States to debate reform again

The States of Jersey
Image caption Islanders will have their say on proposed changes to the States Assembly

Jersey's politicians will again debate the make up of the island's government when they meet on Tuesday.

The last debate on reform was in July when States members rejected the outcome of a referendum.

Five politicians have brought their own plans for government reform to the assembly.

Political commentator Adrian Lee said members wanted to introduce reforms by the next election in 2014 but would face a "huge challenge".

The States of Jersey has discussed various different ideas for reforming its system of government for more than a decade.

Currently the government is made up of 51 politicians, made up of 10 senators elected island-wide, 12 constables with one elected from each of the 12 parishes and 29 deputies elected from 17 different constituencies.

These constituencies are based on the parishes, with one, two or three in each depending on the population size.

This leads to huge differences in the number of people who could vote for constables and deputies. At its extreme this ranges from 1,752 to 33,522 - the populations of St Mary and St Helier both of which elect one constable.

Radical reform

Senator Philip Ozouf, Treasury Minister, wants members to vote on a slightly altered version of the referendum.

That is six large voting districts across the island with the two St Helier districts made up of six members and the remaining four districts with five members each.

Image caption Senator Philip Ozouf wants members to vote on a slightly altered version of the referendum

His plan would also see the end of the island-wide office of senator and the States would reduced from the current 51 to 44 members, 12 constables and 32 deputies.

Deputy Trevor Pitman's idea is almost identical to Senator Ozouf's, with the only exception being the number of deputies.

Under his plan there would be 34 deputies with seven instead of six in each of the two St Helier districts.

Deputy Geoff Southern has brought the most radical reform options to the States.

His vision would see the States adopt the suggestions from a 2000 report on the Machinery of Government by Sir Cecil Clothier.

This would see the end of the island-wide office of senator and the end of the automatic right for constables to sit in the States. His plan would also see all those elected called Members of the States of Jersey (MSJ).

Members would be elected in one of the 12 parishes and the number of members would be set based on population size - so more populous parishes would have more representatives in the States.

Voting changes

Senator Lyndon Farnham, Assistant Home Affairs Minister, wants to keep the island-wide office of Senator.

Image caption Deputy Montfort Tadier wants the States to change the way members are voted in

His plan is an amendment to either Deputy Pitman or Senator Ozouf's plan.

It reduces the number of deputies in each district by one and replacing them with an island-wide election for six senators.

It also adds in a requirement that the office of chief minister can only be held by a senator.

Deputy Montfort Tadier, a member of the panel responsible for States Reform, the Privileges and Procedures Committee, wants the States to change the way members are voted in.

His idea would see a single transferable vote (STV) for multi-member constituencies and an alternative vote (AV) for single member constituencies.

Under STV a number of factors are considered in finding an overall winner. A candidate does not need a majority of votes to be elected, their share of the vote is determined by the size of the electorate and number of positions filled.

Under AV an elector ranks the candidates in the order they would most like to see elected from one to however many candidates there are.

If no candidate achieves 50% of the vote after the first count then the one with the least votes is removed and their votes distributed among the remaining candidates, based on voters' ranking.

If the top candidate has still not got 50% of the votes then the process is repeated until they do.

The States of Jersey will meet from Tuesday 10 September to debate reform and other issues. It will be live on BBC Radio Jersey (1026MW) and online.

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