Islanders ‘overwhelmed’ by large number of candidates

APATHY was on show at the big ‘meet the candidates’ election event yesterday, as the countdown to the first ever island-wide election entered the final two weeks.

Meet the Candidates event at Beau Sejour yesterday, a drop-in with 116 of those who are standing in Guernsey's first island wide election. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 28708669)
Meet the Candidates event at Beau Sejour yesterday, a drop-in with 116 of those who are standing in Guernsey's first island wide election. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 28708669)

The special event at Beau Sejour had 116 candidates taking part and was the only time the majority of deputy hopefuls would be together in one place.

There was a slow and steady stream of islanders, but as a public pulse-tester it revealed that many islanders have not been stirred by what has been dubbed the most important election in decades.

The word that kept on coming up was ‘overwhelming’ because of the large number of candidates.

Everyone seemed in agreement that it was a well organised event and it was useful to meet the political hopefuls face-to-face.

Julie Madeley had spent nearly four hours speaking with candidates, and was surprised at the turnout.

‘If you look around you see there are not many people. I expected it would be teeming with people.

‘We arrived at 9.45am because we thought we needed to get in before the crowds arrived. As a percentage of the population it’s a really tiny, tiny percentage of the population that is here, so from that point of view people are not engaged.

‘The mutterings I’ve heard around the island is that everybody is thinking there’s too many candidates so how can they possibly know what over 100 people are like, and it does take a huge amount of research.’

Andrew Pouteaux agreed it was a very helpful experience, and realised that it would not appeal to everyone.

‘We’re quite committed, we want to make this work, but it’s very difficult and it’s easy to understand why others would look at it and decide it’s too much.’

Emelina Muhawenimana had dedicated her Sunday afternoon to quizzing the candidates on several issues.

‘I think with the number of candidates it’s a little bit overwhelming so this is a good way to break it down to a smaller number of individuals who you think would represent you well.

‘I think young people probably feel overwhelmed because they might not understand the whole process so they disengage rather than taking the time to get their head around it.’

Leo Paucar was another who thought the Sir John Loveridge Hall would be packed to the rafters for the unique opportunity.

‘I work in education and we’re talking all the time about the election, so I’m surprised there’s not many people here because I thought it would be full. But I’m interested to be here and have the opportunity to be face-to-face with the candidates and hear their ideas.’

Most of the crowd were middle-aged or from the older generation, and Tom Le Poidevin was greeted by the candidates as a youngster.

Sixteen year olds can vote in this election, and Mr Le Poidevin said the online world was important to the young demographic.

‘I think young people engage more over social media as opposed to coming to these events, it’s the same at the hustings you see more people from the older generation going.’

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