Guernsey is a Crown Dependency but what does that mean?
- Guernsey owes allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen (in her role as the Duke of Normandy)
- The island is dependent on the UK for matters of defence and foreign affairs,
- Guernsey has its own democratically elected parliament (called The States of Deliberation, usually shortened to “The States” or “The States of Guernsey”)
- The States sets Guernsey’s laws, budget and levels of taxation.
It can be baffling so here are 8 key facts to help you get to grips with what it’s all about.
- Who can vote?
If you have been resident in Guernsey for the past two years consecutively, then you can register to vote. Residents aged 15 and over can register to vote although you have to be at least 16 at the time of the election. There are no restrictions on nationality, so whether you are from Guernsey or Guadeloupe you can still have your say if you have lived here for at least two consecutive years. As a tax payer who has lived in different countries over the years where as a foreigner I have not been allowed to vote, I think this is a great system.
- What Are The Main Parties You Can Vote For?
There are no party politics in Guernsey – all representatives are non-partisan and are voted for on the strength of their own manifestos and ideas.
- How do know who to vote for if they don’t have a party?
Each district runs Hustings events to which all candidates are invited. This is an opportunity for the voters to question candidates all together about their manifestos as well as their views about specific matters. Hustings are presided over by an independent moderator who ensures that when questions are asked, each candidate is allocated the same amount of time to answer This allows voters to compare the candidates like for like on key matters.
- Who Makes Up The States of Deliberation?
The size of the States of Guernsey has been reduced and after the 2016 election it comprises 38 Deputies elected by the people of Guernsey plus 2 representatives from Alderney. The island is divided into 7 electoral districts which are roughly the same in size and each district will have either 5 or 6 deputies. In addition to the elected deputies, there are two non-voting members – HM Procureur and HM Comptroller, both of whom are appointed by the Crown. Furthermore, the Bailiff (who is also appointed by the Crown) presides over the States as well as at the Royal Court.
- Do I have to Use All My Votes?
If you don’t want to use all of your votes, you don’t have to. If in your district you think that there are only four out of the six candidates which you would like to vote for, then that’s fine. Your votes will be counted whether you cast all of them or just a few.
- How Is The States Structured?
Once the deputies are elected, they decide between themselves which deputies will take ministerial roles and take on the associated portfolio. The Policy and Resources Committee (known as the Policy Council until 2016), is the equivalent of the British Cabinet. The committee comprises the politicians with overall responsibility for each department. The Committee’s role is to
- co-ordinate policy including leading the policy planning process,
- allocate and manage resources, including the States’ budget and facilitating cross-committee policy development.
There are to be another six committees plus several boards – Read more about the new structure on the States of Guernsey website
The Chief Minister is chosen by means of a secret ballot by the elected Deputies although it is likely that he or she will not be known as the “Chief Minister” from April 2016 but as the President of the Policy and Resources Committee – watch this space!
- Do Elected Members Of The States Get Paid?
Deputies do receive a salary which varies depending on their role within the States and whether they hold a Ministerial position or not.
- What About New Laws?
The States make Laws which are known as “Projets de Loi” before they are passed and “Loi” or “Law” afterwards. A Projet de Loi is the equivalent of an English Bill and a Law is the equivalent of an English Act of Parliament. For the Laws to come into effect, once they have been voted for by the States, they have then to be given the Royal Sanction by the Privy Council in London before being formally registered at the Royal Court in Guernsey.
Every vote counts and the election is your opportunity to make your voice heard. Have your say on Island life and its future.