Guernsey Press

Sark asks – Who wants to be a conseiller?

THERE are encouraging signs that Sark might have enough candidates in its upcoming election.

Sark Chief Pleas in session in October 2021. There are six vacant seats and recent elections have not seen enough candidates for a contested poll. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 31397635)

The island, which has a population of about 500, has faced repeated problems with trying to fill its political seats since it became a democracy in 2008.

While the initial election saw nearly 60 people stand for the 28 seats.

The membership was later downsized to 18.

But interest has waned. In 2020 only six names were put forward for the nine vacant seats.

Its parliament, known as Chief Pleas, currently has six vacant seats.

Its next general election will take place on 14 December.

Speaker of the parliament, Reg Guille, was keen to encourage anyone qualified to stand.

‘If we want Sark to remain independent, people should stand for election, so we have a well-filled and strong government with a choice for the people who represent them,’ he said.

Elections in Sark take place every two years to elect nine new members, called conseillers, to the parliament, which has 18 seats.

Conseillers serve a four-year term in a rolling election cycle.

Mr Guille, who is also the returning officer for the island, said: ‘Getting enough people to stand has been a problem in the past, but there have been encouraging sounds.

‘We need at least 10 people to stand, otherwise those standing will be elected unopposed, which is something we don’t want to happen.’

Anyone qualified to stand can put themselves forward between Monday 28 November and Friday 2 December.

Sark, which only became a full democracy in 2008, has approximately 470 voters.

Anyone aged 18 or older may have their name on the electoral roll once they have resided on the island for at least two years. Voters are eligible to stand for election.

Any new residents have until Friday 25 November to register for the electoral roll.

The island normally gets a very high voter turnout between 70% and 80%, but has not had contested election since 2018, with by-elections failing to gather enough interest to fill all the seats.