Jersey votes for electoral reform

Voters in Jersey decided in a referendum on 24 April that they want to change the island’s present electoral system but also to keep some elements of the old.

Of the three options put to the electorate, voters decided in favour of Option B, to divide the island into six large constituencies with five deputies each. But they also voted that the 12 constables, or heads of each of the island’s administrative parishes, should remain as ex-officio members of the island’s parliament, or States.

They rejected Option C to keep the system as it is now but they did not want Option A, which would have excluded the constables, and therefore the local parish element, from parliament.

None of the three options obtained a 50 per cent majority on the first count with A getting 6,581 votes, B 6,804 and C 3,239. But when the second preferences of those who voted for the losing Option C were redistributed to Options A and B, then Option B obtained 8,190 votes or 54.98 per cent of the total and Option A 6,707 votes or 45.02 per cent.

In the most densely populated areas of the island Option A won on the first count but in the rural areas Option B came top on the first count. Option C came a losing third in all areas of the island. Both A and B would reduce the number of members of the States from 49 to 42. However only 26 per cent of the electorate turned out to vote.

The referendum is not binding and the States now has the final say. In theory the present members of the island’s present parliament could ignore the outcome of the referendum but this seems unlikely, given the clear indication that the voters want change.

See related article and Jersey referendum website for more details.