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EXCLUSIVE: Bailiff backs plans to introduce snap elections in Jersey

Sir William Bailhache believes that if parliament could not find a solution, a snap election would be Credit: States of Jersey

Politicians in Jersey could soon have the power to force a General Election if they do not agree with the way the Government is running the island.

ITV News can reveal the Privileges & Procedures Committee is looking at how snap elections could be called, as part of a reform of the electoral rules, after the Bailiff intervened to suggest the idea.

The proposition is due to be published before the end of this year, meaning States Members could enact the changes before the next General Election which isn't scheduled until the end of the current four-year term in 2022.

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The Bailiff Sir William Bailhache said: "There is a possible question which needs to be addressed as to whether there ought to be some provision in the States of Jersey law which would allow the calling of earlier elections than the fixed-term elections that we have at four years."

Sir William indicated he believed there were circumstances in which politicians believed parliament "no longer works properly" but could not find a solution. He added: "At that time, another election would be the right thing to do."

It comes as he also intervenes in a public debate about whether moving the General Election from the autumn to the spring had succeeded in encouraging more people to vote.

He said: "May was chosen because it was thought that the electorate would be more persuaded to turn out in the Spring than in the Autumn when elections had previously taken place. My own view is that it is time to reconsider these reasons."

Jersey, like Guernsey, has fixed term parliaments. The UK introduced a similar system in 2011, but there is a mechanism at Westminster for that rule to be broken if two thirds of the House of Commons votes for it or if there is a successful motion of no confidence in the government.

Lyndsey Feltham, chairperson of Jersey's only political party Reform Jersey, disagrees with the proposal, saying it would actually be negative for voting in the island.

Lyndsey Feltham says the reforms would have a negative impact. Credit: ITV Channel TV

I think here where we've got a system where there's a lot of independents in place, a snap election would lead to public confusion. Where we are at the moment, a snap election in Jersey would just lead to more uncontested elections and possibly, lower turnout.

– Lyndsey Feltham, Reform Jersey Chairperson
Roy Le Herissier believes that processes should be introduced so that individual members can face deselection or by-elections. Credit: ITV Channel TV

Constitutional expert Roy Le Herissier says that to reform Jersey's electoral system, the States should instead look at mechanisms to deselect or force by-elections to remove representatives.

Often the member is not quite who you expected them to be, for example, or they're not doing the job you expected them to be, or they've not voted on certain critical issues that you expected them to do. They're the ones, in my view, who should be held to account because it's an individual system, so you hold the individual to account.

– Roy Le Herissier, Political analyst