Blog: Out with the old, in with the new

Could this be a much needed change in Jersey's States Assembly? Credit: ITV Channel

Wow. What a night! As far as elections go, Jersey's was edge of your seat stuff. There were some brutal cullings, as voters plumped to inject some new blood into the veins of the States Assembly.

Quite simply it was a damning verdict on the last administration. Eight Ministers fell in total, including the head honcho - John Le Fondre - the first sitting Chief Minister ever to be ousted. Ouch.

Was it his handling of the pandemic? A failure to deliver on affordable homes? The lack of a meaningful population policy? The cost of living? The never ending new hospital saga? The management of public spending? Whatever it was, the public have had enough and said 'out with the old, in with the new' - sort of. 

Some remnants of the old government remain: Lyndon Farnham (by the skin of his teeth) and Ian Gorst.

They'll likely want to regain power positions and Lyndon could make a play for Chief Minister.

He'll have competition though from poll topper Kristina Moore and former Assistant Chief Minister, Sir Philip Bailhache and possibly Reform leader, Sam Mezec. We will know for sure by next week.

But whoever ends up with the top job, they'll be presiding over a very different States Assembly this time.

Jersey has traditionally been dominated by centre-right politics, but this could change after the island took a sharp turn to the left last night.

The island's only socialist party, Reform Jersey, DOUBLED their seats in the House from five to ten. And while that's far from a majority, with many of the so-called 'establishment' politicians booted out, it will largely be down to the 34 independents to decide on the direction of island politics.

One direction I'm glad Jersey's parliament has moved towards, is greater representation.

This election has been a win for women. We now have a record number in the house and 50% MORE than last time - with 21 seats out of 49 compared to 14 in 2018.

While overall the gender balance falls short (43% of the House are women), more than half the Deputies are of the female persuasion. 

There is also greater ethnic diversity, with the first Romanian politician being elected (Raluca Kovacs) the first black States member (Beatriz Poree) and Portuguese people now have twice the representation they had before.... ok... so it's gone from one seat to two.

But in Jersey terms, that's progress right? For democracy to work, we need our governments to reflect the whole of society and while there is a long way to go, at least the dial is moving.

So what now for our new States Members? As well as tackling housing, managing the population, the cost of living, funding the health system, deciding whether or not to bring the new hospital back to the drawing board, an ever growing civil service, the question of a living wage, deciding the terms of a law on assisted dying, they will also have to decide what to do about themselves. 

It's clear from the popularity of 'None of the Above' in the Constables election that there is an argument to scrap the role. NOTA achieved a quarter of the votes in Trinity and St Brelade, a third in St Ouen and nearly half in St Saviour!

I know many new States members are gunning for the return of the island-wide role of Senator and last night's results may give them credence.

Sam Mezec, for example, while topping the poll in his district, actually received 42 fewer votes than John Le Fondre, who was ousted. So electoral reform will no doubt be back on the agenda.

For the most part, it's going to be an unpredictable ride.

The wind of change is about to blow through a dusty old States Chamber. And, after the years of the status quo, what a breath of fresh air that will be!