Following two Parish Assemblies organised by the parishioners of St Clement and St Helier, the result of the public vote has been resoundingly against States Members having a role in the Electoral Commission.
In the St Clement the result was 16 in favour of the proposition (that Deputy Le Hérissiers amendment be adopted to keep the Commission independent), 0 against (thats zero!) and 11 abstentions (including Deputy Baudains who said he was in favour, he just as a matter of principle doesn't vote at Parish Assemblies).
At the Town Hall meeting the result was 53 in favour and 3 against.
This result could not possibly be more unequivocal. Senator Bailhache has no mandate whatsoever to usurp the Commissions independence and the public are totally against it. People are cynical about politics in general and the idea of politicians being involved in deciding their own future is alien to them. At the end of the day, in a democracy the politicians are not our bosses, we are their bosses! The system of government and elections that we have should be determined by the public and not by those already in the system.
I note that several commentators on electoral reform are specifically avoiding using the phrase "electoral reform" and are instead calling it "democratisation" which I think is very apt given the position Jersey is in. By no stretch of the English language can a system which actively encourages voter abstention be considered democratic.
But the actual vote in the States takes place in 5 days, now is the time, if you haven't already, to contact your representatives and alert them to these results. If they vote against Deputy Le Hérissiers amendment, they are voting against the will of the people of Jersey. I will attach a slightly amended version of my template email that takes into account the Parish Assemblies.
Since I am not in Jersey, I can't tell what the mood on the ground is like and I therefore find it difficult to make any predictions, but we have generally had a positive response from the States Members we have spoken to, so I have my fingers crossed. If the vote is lost, that will be it, there will be States Members on the Commission and there will be nothing that can be done about it. We will simply have to make the best out of a bad situation by enthusing the public to overwhelm the Commission with their submissions on recommendations for democratisation. If we feel really shafted by the result, maybe even have a bit of a demonstration outside the States Chamber!
Dear <insert States Members name here>,
I write to you as a constituent to canvass for your support for a vote due to be debated in the States on the 6th of March on an amendment to P.5/2012.
I am aware that an amendment is to be put forward by Deputy Roy Le Hérrisier to replace the 3 States Members on the Electoral Commission with unelected and independent members instead. I feel it is important to ask you, as my elected representative, to back Deputy Le Herrisiers amendment and maintain the position that was decided last year following former Deputy Wimberly's proposition.
Over the years the States of Jersey has proven itself to be incapable of reforming itself and it is of vital importance that the Electoral Commission is independent so that there are no vested interests on board. I am utterly dismayed at the attempts of Senator Bailhache (with the backing of the Chief Minister) to try and usurp the Commission for himself to put forward his own views which do not reflect the wish of much of the electorate.
The States of Jersey as it is currently constituted has severe deficiencies in democratic accountability. The election turnouts are appallingly low, there is considerable disproportionality in the representation of certain parts of the island and there is a lack of separation of powers. This can only be solved by a commission of people whose sole objective is to improve Jersey's democracy and not those who have a vested interest in their seats being maintained. I fear that if we allow the commission to be taken over by politicians then we will simply have another few years of wrangling, disagreement and no progress whatsoever.
Over the past couple of weeks, two Parish Assemblies were called, one in St Clement, one in St Helier, where the parishioners voted overwhelmingly against the prospect of States Members being on the Commission and therefore to vote against Deputy Le Herissiers amendment is to defy the will of the public you are meant to represent.
I hope I can count on you to support this amendment, and the principle in general.
<Insert your name and parish here>
A list of States Members contact details can be found here - http://sammezec.blogspot.com/2012/02/my-plea-for-small-deed-to-save-jerseys.html