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The day democracy died

Readers' Letters | Published:

THERE was a sad death on 11 October which will be long remembered. For many with deep roots in this island it feels like one of the final nails has been driven into the coffin.

As the results gradually came out, the rain came down like tears of mourning.

We know our consensus electoral system, which has worked well for many years, has been struggling for a while, but through no fault of its own.

Despite all the negative rhetoric thrown at our consensus system, it was never really the problem but it was those elected by this system who abused it, disrespected it and did not live up to what their role as a representative of the people really meant.

The recent atrocious decisions by some States committees and departments only added to the mix.

We had an electoral system that connected the people to their deputies in a way many other systems cannot do as it elects its representatives from its local community.

It is an electoral system some organisations have called ‘Athenian’ in nature and had great admiration for. Were they all wrong in their views or do we just take notice of those local influential groups and individuals who have made every effort to undermine the consensus system for a system giving more political power and control to these groups and less real island representation?

From the start this referendum was ill conceived and managed.

Too many options to split and confuse the voter, plus the counting mechanism used.

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The threshold of 40% should have been a lot higher as it does not really represent the majority of those registered to vote. It should in reality have been at least 65% to get a more true representation.

Many of those who voted for Option B did not select a second option, which would have probably defeated Option A. I was one and I will regret this for a long time as it allowed a less favoured option past the post and Option C was a good compromise.

It took voting down to the fourth preference vote, which really says it all about the type of referendum we had.

We now have a major change to our electoral system voted for by only around 19% of eligible voters and for a large number of these Option A was not their first choice, so the figure of actual outright support is even less.

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This I suppose is normal for Guernsey, as minority voting seems to triumph often in this island. It just shows the poor situation our democracy is in and I see apathy in this island only getting worse in the future.

Political involvement will now become more distant as the change will kill grassroots democracy in this island.

I remember over 40 years ago voting for the first time – an exciting moment in my life – and my father saying we had to vote if we were ever going to get anything changed.

Coming out of the ’60s, the future looked so bright and people believed that things were going to change for the better. However, now I feel that was just a dream.

The last two or three elections in particular have produced very poor government and the gulf just gets wider and wider between the electorate and those elected to represent them.

IWV will not change this but in time will increase the gulf, leaving the island to a political elite.

For over 40 years I have voted in many island and douzaine elections and I for one won’t vote again and I know a number of others who feel the same.

It feels it is no longer our island, probably never really was, and we will have an electoral system many don’t believe in or actually support.

In a few years’ time people will be disappointed at how controlled and manipulated the new electoral system will become and how little input or real representation they will actually have.

Only then will they realise the benefit of the consensus electoral system we had, despite its faults.

I know for many other Guernsey folk I have spoken to over recent weeks, a major part of what made Guernsey what it was has died and the newborn won’t bring the shining democratic future some think it will.

It will just be a facade for those who will manipulate and control the political landscape.

If the new system works for your island then fine, but it does not work for me.

In the good old Guernsey way, I suppose you have to honour the will of the people, all 19% of them.

NAME AND ADDRESS WITHHELD.

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