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States Reform

You are in: Jersey > Inside the States > States Reform > Do we need politicians?

Polling Station at Springfield Stadium

Do we need politicians?

We’ve come up with a couple of radical ideas to reform the States – why not share yours with us?

Average turnouts at the last batch of elections in the island were pretty low, with less than 50% of the electorate actually turning out.

In fact the turnout in the most recent Constable Election in St Helier, an election for a man responsible for a massive budget and a third of the islands population – saw a turnout of just 19%.

So, it could be argued that when the politicians propose a new law and get it passed and have it introduced that they don't really have enough of a mandate from the people of Jersey for it to be relevant or for it to count.

This is especially the case when the law, tax or major change being introduced is a controversial one – such as electoral reform, the Waterfront or GST.

Let’s take Electoral Reform for a start. The people being asked to vote on changing the way people are elected to the States of Jersey are the people that were elected under the current system - would you vote to change a system that put you where you are?

So is a new approach needed or does it not make that much of a difference?

A new approach?

A caller to the BBC Radio Jersey phone-in suggested that technology could be used to give everyone a vote on every issue.

Mark suggested that technology could be used so that "we can vote on every issue ourselves without the need for representation."

In some countries if enough signatures can be gathered in a petition (certain USA States/Switzerland for example) then a referendum on that issue is automatically triggered. Would that idea work in Jersey?

If enough of a percentage of the electorate sign a petition against a new law or call for a change (such as electoral reform), then a referendum could automatically be triggered and if a reasonable majority vote in favour of the change or against the law then the result could be binding.

Of course this would require checks and balances. For example you might want a rule that says that the referendum is only valid if there is at least a 65% turnout and then the significant majority needs to be at least 70%.

It's not like Jersey isn't used to this kind of direct democracy - the electorate set their own parish rates and have the ability to demand it be a LOT lower than the Parish Constable says he needs (see St Helier a few years ago).

Direct Democracy?

Or what about something even more direct? Do we really need politicians in the 21st Century? What about having a web site where anyone can post a proposal, everyone registered to vote in the island can then cast a vote or have their say on that proposal.

For example - lets say Mr le Sueur, a registered voter who's been through all the checks and balances to make sure he is who he says he is, submits a proposal for a 3% Goods and Services tax on all products sold in Jersey.

Every other registered voter then has the right to 1) post a comment or propose an alteration on that original proposal and 2) vote on the proposal.

If after a set deadline has been reached there is more than 70% in favour of the proposal - it gets carried and is made law by the Civil Service.

Over to you

What do you think? Is it time for this kind of radical reform? Share your ideas for changing the way the island works.

last updated: 14/01/2008 at 13:34
created: 14/01/2008

Have Your Say

The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.

Gen Z
Generation X can't be bothered, due to media influence. Only the internet shook it up... not enough. If this is threatened progress will be slowed further. Innovative modes of communication will need to happen before the normality of painful change can continue; Cavaliers vs Roundheads Round 2 I'd imagine. Hence,`The BBC reserves the right to edit comments submitted.`

ricky
We dont need a dictatorship, which jersey has become,and the sooner the uk goverment takes a closer look at this so called goverment the better,they are a sham and a rule unto theirselves and noone to watch over them, let the people vote for the next minister, not states members! cos last time was just a joke! we had a two horse race ,which had a winner even before the race started , im jersey born and this goverment makes me sick

Trixie Silvester
As Mr. Roberto de Freitas states ,they're medieval criminals , Mr.T.Le Suere stole the peoples land using a medieval law. He then became a new age criminal using GST. They do not care about anyone but themselves.

Peter
Tempting to get rid of them. They hardly ever listen to the people who let them. They usually totally ignore Jo Public. I suppose in all seriousness that we cant get rid of them although the system (the make up of the states)and the way the elections are set up in Jersey, are useless. What about getting the monkey's at the zoo to run the island. Oops sorry, I think they already do !!!

Karl
Workers of Jersey, unite!

Trevor
Sad as some might consider it - of course we need politicians. What we don't need is to fall for the spin and re-elect the same old bunch of self-interested millionaires who's only driving force seems to be to bleed working people dry with taxes to both protect their wealthy chums and cover up their general incompetence. We also need a party political system so that if a government doesn't keep its promises or performs as badly as this Council of Ministers then they can be ousted in one go at an election!

Roberto de Freitas
Jersey born here. Yes, I love the idea of having no politicians!... They've never done anything for me asides make my life a complete mysery, I'm not the only one that thinks this. They never listen to the people, and do what they want regardless of what we think anyway. Its time for a change, a long overdue change! - I was born here, and i can't even afford a place of my own (other than a room), rented or otherwise, I've always played by the rules and I've always been a good citizen, is this right? The states has a lot to answer for, some really bad decisions they've made and now we're all suffering whilst they're raking it in!Where does my hard earned cash go? - To to some stupid development or yet another project we don't need and won't benefit from in this island!GST is a step too far... They've taken enough as it is, soon we won't have anything to give.They're medieval criminals if you ask me.My life does not belong to you, its mine!Regards, Roberto.

chimpface
Once again, the people of this island have demonstrated their complete lack of any political acumen whatsoever. I look forward to the same old faces being re-elected in the autumn. Plus ca change.....

Carl
Yes YES YES!!If someone proposes a referendum question and can get x other people to second it... then surely we have the technology to allow all the other voters on the island to have their say YES/NO on the issue, online somehow. Or... why not collate the questions into an optional form that could be filled in at the normal elections, in the polling booth - if you're there anyway to vote, with your ID checked, why not use that chance to have a say on a whole number of issues if you're willing to spare the time?

si
any current method of electronic voting is far too open to abuse for it to be effective.. one hacker could manipulate any such vote to their own ends.. whilst a noble suggestion, i do not think such a system could ever work in reality..

A. de Burgos
GST should be charged on cars and luxury goods only, Mr Le Sueur has got it wrong

joe
in my opinion the people that always moan are the people that can't be bothered to vote.i take my hat off to the states members even though i disagree with a lot of their crap.they see a lot of lazy people in this island and have taken full advantage of it. so all you moaners out there stop moaning and get off ur backsides and start doing something about it.the wakeup call is long overdue

Andy
I believe that an internet system could never work as there still wouldnt be a good enough turnout. The states need to be totally reformed, the old needs to be changed for the new. As it stands now jersey is a business island and such needs to be run by people who understand large business. we dont have much young blood in the states. I can understand that people will always want to work it best for themselves but there has been much talk amoungst states personal that there is too much red tape that wastes money in the island. I believe that younger people would be more inclined to vote if they saw that new fresh ideas were coming through and youger politicians who represented their thinking had major places in the states that could make a difference. Although i also understand that when ever a politician wishes to make a change in the states if it is to radical the other emembers will quash and quell this rebelious individual rather than listen to them and allowing them to represent their ideas.

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