The format of the hustings for senators in Jersey does not work. This is even more evident when there are more than a dozen candidates as is the case this year.
There are 17 candidates standing for one of eight senatorial seats. The hustings start with each candidate having three minutes to tell the audience in the room (and at home on YouTube the next day) why they should be elected.
With 17 candidates it is nearly an hour before we even get to audience questions. That doesn’t include the opening and any other delays.
I would argue the main point of a hustings is for voters to get to quick the candidates – at the final hustings in St Helier there was only time for four questions.
That is four questions from an audience of about 100 people – hardly in the spirit of the meeting.
The questions included:
- One on a redundancy safety net
- Another on support for teachers and the education system
- The third was on communicating with millenials
- The last was on the gender pay gap
If that isn’t a sign of a broken system I don’t know what is. We need meetings where the voter runs the show not the candidate.
As a minimum the meeting should ditch the opening speeches and replace them with a very short 30 second per candidate closing remark.
That would give an extra hour for questions – an extra two or three questions if managed properly. But it’s only a sticking plaster.
Much more radical reforms are needed like changing things up so that the candidates are split over multiple meets rather than all in one last super type table.
By the time we were half way through the speeches half the audience were losing focus and had already forgotten what was being said – at one point one of the candidates looked like he was taking a nap.
That doesn’t make for a particularly healthy electoral meeting.