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Electoral Reform 'Supermajority' Attempt Rejected

A second attempt to only allow plans to overhaul Jersey's electoral system to pass with at least 32 votes has failed.

Deputy Chief Minister Senator Lyndon Farnham argued that such a change to the island's constitution should require two-thirds of States members' support.

"It has been tabled to enable reform, to force members to work together collectively and thoughtfully, to blend their views together with the interests of all islanders into properly considered, sustainable reform of our political system.

"It will force members to work together to search for the solutions necessary to ensure that we maintain a modern, well-respected, secure, and stable democracy."

It was a carbon-copy of the same proposition in 2019, which was narrowly defeated by 24 votes to 22.

This attempt was defeated more convincingly - by 30 votes to 12.

Former Children and Housing Minister Senator Sam Mezec criticised the proposal when it was first lodged in October.

Speaking in the debate, he called it 'flawed on every single level'.

“He’s (Senator Farnham) described this as something which will rather than prevent change, will encourage change. Could that be any more ridiculous?

“It quite clearly will achieve the opposite because it gives veto power to the minority. In a democracy, how can that possibly be right to be in a situation where we could have a very clear majority of States members, perhaps even 31 States members, who are united in the way forward, for them to then be vetoed by the minority of members who may be completed divided in their reasons for opposing change and who may themselves have no ability to be part of a wider consensus for a positive change?

”That is clearly undemocratic and clearly wrong."

The next attempt at securing electoral reform will be debated at the start of December.

Privileges and Procedures have suggested 37 elected States members across nine districts, plus the 12 Constables.

The last proposition on electoral reform, if successful, would have seen Constables lose their automatic right to sit and vote in the assembly.

PPC Chairman, Deputy Russell Labey, called Senator Farnham's 'supermajority' attempt 'a personal crusade to stop any change'.

"It is unreasonable, it is unfair. Achieving 25 (votes) is hard enough. It’s tough, it’s why we’ve no change in 20 years since Clothier.

"Let's have a debate on the arguments on the change proposed, not on barriers to prevent any change."

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