Sark elections: chance or conspiracy?

Sark

The independent observer tasked with analysing Sark's recent planned election, which didn't take place because 16 candidates stood for 16 places, says he's found no evidence of conspiracy:

The election had been planned for December 2014.

It didn't go ahead because the 16 vacancies were all uncontested, but a ballot was held to decide which candidates took the 14 seats with four-year terms, and which candidates took the two seats with two-year terms.

Though he didn't find evidence of a conspiracy, Mr Knight says his findings suggest that Sark is not a "healthy democracy":

He's made a series of recommendations for Sark, going forwards:

However, he says islanders have many challenges to content with:

  • A culture of secrecy, rather than transparency

  • A failure to understand the importance of engaging citizens appropriately in discussions

  • About the key policy challenges before reaching a decision.

  • A lack of media skills with an outward-facing focus.

  • A governance process that is not under-pinned by Nolan principles.

  • The sheer difficulty of avoiding conflicts of interest in a small community where individuals may play many roles and have a number of responsibilities, because that is how the island economy works.

  • A perception that, although the structures might have changed, the same people are pulling the strings.

  • Looking backwards, rather than looking forwards.

And the current administration has a responsibility to:

  • Be pro-active about communicating what is happening

  • Become transparent

  • Develop its own guidance about declaring and avoiding conflicts of interest, and engaging citizens.

The Chairman of the island's Police and Performance Committee says they welcome the report: