Politics of Guernsey

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Politics of Guernsey take place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic British Crown dependency.


Main office holders
Office Name Party Since
Lieutenant Governor Vice Admiral Ian Corder CB 2016
Bailiff Richard Collas 23 March 2012
Chief Minister Jonathan Le Tocq 12 March 2014[1]

The Lieutenant Governor is the representative of "the Crown in right of the république of the Bailiwick of Guernsey".[2] The official residence of the Lieutenant Governor is Government House, Queens Road, St Peter Port. From 15 April 2011, the incumbent had been Peter Walker until his death on 6 September 2015.

The Bailiff is the first civil officer in the Bailiwick of Guernsey, serving as president of the legislature and the Royal Court. The Bailiff is appointed by the Crown, and generally holds office until retirement age (65). He presides at the Royal Court, and takes the opinions of the Jurats, elected lay judges; he also presides over the States, and represents the Crown in all civil matters.

The States of Deliberation[edit]

The States of Guernsey, officially called the States of Deliberation, consists of 38 People's Deputies, elected from multi-member districts every four years. There are also two representatives from Alderney, a self-governing dependency of the Bailiwick, but Sark sends no representative. There are also two non-voting members - HM Procureur and HM Comptroller, appointed by the Crown.[3]

Laws made by the States are known as Projet(s) de Loi before they are passed and Loi or Law(s) afterwards (e.g., The Human Rights (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Law 2000.

A Project de Loi is the equivalent of an English Bill, and a Law is the equivalent of an English Act of Parliament. Laws have no effect until Royal assent is promulgated as Orders-in-Council of the Crown. They are given the Royal Sanction at regular meetings of the Privy Council in London after, which they are returned to the Islands for formal registration at the Royal Court.

The States also make delegated legislation known as Ordinances (Ordonnances) and Orders (Ordres) which do not require Royal Assent. Commencement orders are usually in the form of Ordinances.

Policy Council[edit]

The Policy Council is responsible for Guernsey's constitutional and external affairs, developing strategic and corporate policy and coordinating States business. It also examines proposals and Reports placed before Guernsey's Parliament (the States of Deliberation) by Departments and Non States Bodies.[4]

The Policy Council is chaired by the Chief Minister and is composed of the Minister from each of the governmental Departments.

Political parties and elections[edit]

Main article: Elections in Guernsey

Guernsey has no political parties with all representatives being elected as non-partisans.

The 1948 Reform Law resulted in the 12 Jurats and 10 Parish Rectors no longer forming part of the States of Deliberation, their place being taken by 12 Conseillers holding office for 6 years, elected by the States of Election.

In 2000 there were 33 Deputies elected with three year mandates, and 12 Conseillers representing the Bailiwick, serving terms of six years, with half being elected every three. The Conseiller system was scrapped for the 2004 election.

In the 2004, 2008 and 2012 elections there were 45 Deputy seats for election. From 2016 the number of Deputy seats was reduced to 38.[5]

In addition there are two representatives of the States of Alderney in the States of Guernsey.

Judicial branch[edit]

The legal system is derived from Norman French and English common law, justice being administered through a combination of Magistrates Court and the Royal Court. The Royal Court is presided over by the Bailiff (or Deputy Bailiff) and 12 Jurats (a permanent elected jury), the ultimate court of appeal being the Privy Council.

Administrative divisions[edit]

There are ten parishes in Guernsey. Each parish is administered by a Douzaine. Douzeniers are elected for a six-year mandate, two Douzeniers being elected by parishioners at a Parish Meeting in November each year. The senior Douzenier is known as the Doyen. Two elected Constables carry out the decisions of the Douzaine, serving for between one and three years. The longest serving Constable is known as the Senior Constable and his or her colleague as the Junior Constable.

Parishes: Castel, Forest, St Andrew, St Martin, St Peter, St Peter Port, St Sampson, St Saviour, Torteval and Vale [6]

As regards General Elections, following the machinery of government changes in 2004, Guernsey has the following electoral districts, loosely based on the parish system:[7]

  1. Castel
  2. St. Peter Port North
  3. St. Peter Port South
  4. St. Sampson's
  5. South-East (St. Martin's and St. Andrew's)
  6. Vale
  7. West (Torteval, Forest, St. Saviour's, St. Pierre-du-Bois)

European Parliament[edit]

Unlike citizens of Gibraltar, which is a British Overseas Territory and who have a vote within the South West England constituency, Guernsey, as with other Crown dependencies, are not part of the European Union and have no vote in their Parliament.

See also[edit]