Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Odds stacked against change

The whole system is arranged to keep a stable status quo, isn't it? With the position of Senator being a senior one with twice the length of term as a deputy, it's a sure bet that new faces will hardly ever enter the states via this route. Deputies are the way in. Yet we only get to vote for a tiny minority of those, and have to trust our fellow islanders in the other parishes and districts to do the right thing with all the others.

Is that fair? Do we need a senior position at all, if it keeps new faces out? I support an island wide mandate, but really don't see the need for the two-tiers, the different lengths terms, the seniority aspect. New faces would stand a much better chance of being given a chance if there wasn't such a distinction. I'd like to see a system suggested some time ago of only one position : 5 year term Senators with an island wide mandate, 8 elected each year, 40 of them in total. I'm ambivilant about Constables, I think their parishes elect them for a dual role, and that's fair enough. They are more grounded and in touch with reality than politicians in their ivory towers who never see how people really live at grass roots level. You could say they should stand for each role seperately on their own merits, but I like the way at least 12 people in the chamber are guaranteed to know how the average person is affected by States decisions.

Maybe the deputies system isn't so bad after all. Maybe I should rethink my distaste for having so little say in the make up of The House. If you view an election, Jersey style, as something of an opinion poll with a large enough sample size (total number of votes) to make the results statistically fair and accurate, then it could be argued that it's fair enough if all islanders are likely to think the same way about any specific candidates. A small sample from just one parish is likely to be the same as an island wide one (or is it? is it more easily skewed by friends and family? Is there really a significant difference between country and urban parishes?)

Usually, with an opinion poll, the sampling is done randomly with people selected by the pollsters... whereas with our elections it is a self-selected sample of people who want to vote. Does that affect the outcome? I'll leave that to any experts on statistics who may happen to read this by some fluke and consider it worth a reply (and I'll hold my umbrella up in case of flying pig droppings).

Right... I've had enough, my bed is more inviting than waiting for the final results.

Update, the morning after...
I now define Jersey democracy as :
A democratic system dominated by apathy, based upon a majority of politicians facing election in 12 seperate popularity contests with statistically unsound small and self-selected samples, with low turnouts.

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