Guernsey Press

IWV made last few places in the States a lottery – Roffey

ISLAND-WIDE voting just created a lottery for the last elected places, said Peter Roffey during a Scrutiny Management Committee hearing yesterday.

Deputy Peter Roffey. (Picture by Luke Le Prevost, 32501537)

It was the second hearing into a review of island-wide voting, which heard that giving the public 38 votes to use on 119 candidates was ‘overwhelming’ and led to some of the electorate using votes to keep certain politicians out or randomly because they could, rather than voting for those they would like to be part of their central government.

‘If you’re not examining all of the individuals, then you just end up checking them off because they’re related or not related to a certain party and I think there’s a danger in that,’ said Deputy Roffey, a long-standing States member who has never been involved with a party.

‘You could have a party with a couple of superstars and another nine who are complete duffers, and then you’re getting on for a third of the States elected in that way.

‘What we’ve ended up with is an electoral system designed for parties. The only way it would work would be with parties.’

At the time of the 2020 election there were three parties formed and 40 of the candidates were members of them.

There are now just two States members who still belong to a party.

There was discussion about the relationship between political parties and island-wide voting and whether the island can have one without the other, or whether it would be better off with both.

‘The system was chosen with no knowledge that any political parties would emerge,’ said Guernsey Party advisor Dave Piesing.

‘It’s too early to make a judgement on whether island-wide voting needs political parties or whether political parties need island-wide voting.’

He added that any new electoral system needed two or three cycles to establish the outcome.

Deputy Roffey suggested that island-wide voting encouraged more candidates because they no longer had to sit through hustings, knock on electorate doors or hand out leaflets, and the lack of experience of some deputies increased the influence of the civil service on government.

‘There is a larger influence of civil servants when there are a lot of novice deputies who look to civil servants to tell them what should be happening in their department,’ he said.

‘The more novices, the more vacuum where civil servants come in and fill that vacuum.

‘There will have been people who have filtered through the first three-quarters of this term.’