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Presidential by-election in Alderney delayed until June

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STATES members in Alderney voted to push back a presidential by-election until June to allow more candidates to come forward.

Former Alderney representative Louis Jean has said he was thinking about running for office but stressed that his support for the delay was about ‘the right way of doing things’. (Picture by Adrian Miller, 24450979)

After an eight-year run in office, Stuart Trought announced his resignation in the April Billet. His term was supposed to run until 2020.

In the report, which gives no reason for his decision, he outlined a schedule for elections on 11 May so that his successor could be sworn in at that month’s States Meeting on 15th.

He planned to step down at that same meeting.

But law officers advised that elections could not be held until he had officially vacated office.

An election was then proposed for 18 May.

However, an 11th hour amendment was tabled by States member Mike Dean at this month’s meeting proposing that the by-election be put back until 22 June.

It means vice-president Louis Jean will step up to the presidential role in the interim period.

Former Alderney Representative Mr Jean had intended to second the amendment – but it emerged that he was thinking of entering the presidential race, so Alex Snowdon seconded it instead.

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Proposing the amendment Mr Dean said it would not be ‘democratic or fair’ to expect potential candidates to make a decision to stand for election in a short space of time, particularly as no one was expecting to go to the polls so early.

‘I was surprised to learn that the president had handed in his resignation.

'The majority expected him to continue for another 17 months and maybe for a third term of office,’ he said.

‘The island had no reason to expect a new election until the current term of office was completed.

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‘There is a number of talented people on the island who may wish to stand for office but they have not had time to consider whether to stand or not.

‘It’s a very important office and it’s essential that the people of Alderney have a chance to elect the best possible candidate with the biggest possible number of supporters.

‘Where is the need to rush this through instead of allowing people time?’

Policy and Finance Committee chairman James Dent queried whether the delay was to suit specific individuals planning to offer themselves as candidates.

‘Too much delay is just as bad as too little notice,’ he said.

‘People have spoken to you asking for this lengthy delay. Other people have spoken to me asking that we get on with things.

‘Have any specific members of the electorate sought this delay and are they potential candidates?’

Mr Jean clarified that he was thinking about running for office.

But he stressed that his support for the delay was not about anything other than consideration of the public and ‘the right way of doing things’.

David Earl, who was elected in November, said he had ‘no sympathy’ with the amendment.

‘We had two weeks to prepare ourselves for elections and that proved to be more than adequate.’

Mr Snowdon said the debate should not ‘get personal’ about who may be putting themselves forward for election.

The delay, he said, would allow proxy votes to be arranged.

The amendment was carried, with Mr Dent, Graham McKinley and Mr Earl voting against.

Mr Trought has not publicly given any reason for his decision to curtail his time in office.

He was sworn in on Wednesday 22nd June 2011 on Sir Norman Browse’s retirement halfway through a four-year term.

Mr Trought completed that term, which ended on 31 December 2012.

He was then unopposed at the elections in December 2012 and December 2016.

His current term was due to end on 31 December 2020.

Nick Mann

By Nick Mann
author

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