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If South Korea can, why can't we?

If South Korea can, why can't we?

Tuesday 19 May 2020

If South Korea can, why can't we?

A group of business people have written an open letter to Guernsey's current deputies urging them not to follow through on plans to delay the first island wide election, by up to a year.

The group - which includes former hotelier Simon Vermeulen (pictured above) - think the covid-19 pandemic could soon reach a position in Guernsey where the election could be held sooner than has been suggested.

polling station

Pictured: The first island wide election was due to be held in June 2020 but has been deferred because of the covid-19 pandemic.

Monday 18 May 2020
Dear all

Ahead of the forthcoming States meeting where you are being asked to approve an amendment to Guernsey's Reform Law with reference to delaying Guernsey’s Election by 12 months, we urge you to vote against the proposition. We are fully aware you voted for a delay however we feel this is an opportunity to correct this wrong and the considerable injustice to the people of Guernsey that’s in play. 

You may ask why it is wrong?  We are indeed in one of the worse crisis’ and economic downturns Guernsey and indeed the World has ever encountered and whilst this is as serious as lives at stake, we don’t feel hearts can rule minds and democracy simply be swept away.

We feel Covid-19 shouldn’t be used by the States as an excuse not to do things but instead use it as an opportunity to do the right thing.  South Korea were recently able to hold a fair and proper election - why can’t we? 


Pictured: The States met during a socially distanced meeting at St James in March, before the island went into full lockdown.

As a writer to the Guernsey Press so eloquently put last week democracy is not something, we should take for granted, many have fought and even lost their own lives in the fight for freedom for democracy. We believe democracy should be upheld. 

Whilst we fully appreciate the need for safety and in no way should become complacent, the current situation is quickly evolving and indeed improving. We don’t believe a static decision on an election date should be approved, we would prefer an option where the election date could be reviewed on a monthly basis and held at a future point soonest from that review.  

Normally major States decisions (and we consider this one of them) would in part be formed by public consultation.  It is ironic this is the first Island-wide election the people of Guernsey have had a say in (after many years of campaigning) and it is the first election only the States of Guernsey have had a say in delaying.

election vote

Pictured: The decision to hold an island wide election was decided by a referendum in October 2018.

In terms of timings we were already fully prepared for the original Election date, in an operational sense and the candidates preparing to stand were on the start line.  And indeed, would have been prepared for October as SACC's previously preferred date.  A delay until October is acceptable and proportionate but a delay for a year is certainty not. Why waste a year with a States that includes many Deputies who do not even want to be there? 

An experienced pair of hands may in some people’s minds be the best approach for managing a crisis whilst others would prefer to have the best people around the table to manage such a crisis.  Guernsey’s electorate can be the only ones to decide who they want at that table. 

Following publication of our letter in the Guernsey Press several weeks ago we have been blown away by firstly the response of support for not delaying the election by 12 months and the high calibre of people who have reached out to also say they were planning on standing.  

We have great admiration for all the people of Guernsey who have worked together to bring us to this stage including the Community who have adhered to social distancing rules. We believe there are challenges beyond Covid-19 and we need an assembly WITH the appetite to raise to the challenge effectively.

A public board would struggle to vote themselves in without shareholder consent. Good governance is the life blood of any organisation, and the States is no exception.

Please do not support amending the Reform Law and set the example that’s expected of you. Ignoring this could well set a dangerous precedent that could well be manipulated by a future States. 

Finally, we ask for a recorded vote on the proposition.  

Simon Vermeulen –
Gerald Hough 
Clive McMinn
Tony Cleal
Tory Russell

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