Guernsey Press

Public support for ‘pure island-wide voting’ has collapsed, review finds

A review of the 2020 general election has indicated a collapse in public support for the current system of island-wide voting.

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Deputy Yvonne Burford. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 32727277)

It was backed by only 14% of nearly 1,500 respondents in a survey published today, which was organised as part of a year-long Scrutiny review.

More than six in 10 respondents said they definitely wanted to see the current system replaced, although nearly four in 10 continued to favour some form of island-wide voting.

Meanwhile, support appears to have increased for all four alternative electoral systems which were defeated in a referendum held in 2018.

Scrutiny said that support for the previous parish-based system had remained stable in the five years since the referendum.

But support for ‘pure island-wide voting’ – as in 2020, 38 deputies elected on one day from a list of approximately 120 candidates – had fallen significantly.

‘At the same time, rolling island-wide voting – whereby one-third of the States are elected island wide each two years for a six-year term – more than doubled,' it said.

‘Option D in the referendum – four electoral districts – has also seen a significant increase in support.’

A hybrid system, with some deputies elected island-wide and some elected by parishes or districts, was the single most popular option in the survey, which was conducted by Island Global Research during the summer.

Nearly 60% of respondents said they felt sufficiently well-informed about all or nearly all candidates when voting in previous parish- or district-based elections, but that figure dropped to 16% at the island-wide election in 2020.

Scrutiny concluded that neither the previous system nor the current one could satisfy most voters’ wish to have a say over all seats in the Assembly, or at least a significant proportion, without being faced with an unwieldy number of candidates, as well as reviving closer links with parishes.

‘It is important to note that it is not just the large number of manifestos to read that is a problem.

'There is a desire by many voters to be able to meet the candidates or at least see them in action in order to make informed decisions. Any future system needs to ensure the feasibility of this.

‘There remains significant support for the ability to vote for any candidate who stands.

‘Despite the understandable desire by some for a return to the previous parish-based system, the risk is significant that any reversion to a parish-based system would simply revive these calls and possibly make them louder, given that people will have had a taste of the ability to vote for any candidate.’