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Politics of the Bailiwick of Jersey takes place in a framework of a parliamentary representative democratic British Crown Dependency, whereby the Chief Minister of Jersey is the head of government. The government of Jersey is composed of the Queen of the United Kingdom, the Lieutenant Governor of Jersey, the Bailiff, the Assembly of the States, and since December 2005, the Chief Minister of Jersey and his cabinet. Elizabeth II's traditional title as head of state is that of Duke of Normandy, but she does not hold that title formally. She reigns by her position as Queen over a crown dependency. Her representative in the Bailiwick is the Lieutenant Governor, Lieutenant General Andrew Ridgway who has little but a token involvement in politics.



Jersey has an unwritten constitution arising from the Treaty of Paris (1259). When Henry III and the King of France came to terms over the Duchy of Normandy, all lands except the Channel Islands recognised the suzerainty of the King of France. The Channel Islands however were never absorbed into the Kingdom of England by any Act of Union and exist as "peculiars of the Crown".

The Queen as head of state appoints the Lieutenant-Governor, who serves a ceremonial role as the Queen's representative and as commander of the Armed Forces, for such a term as she pleases.

Jersey is a "long-standing, small democracy"[1] with ultimate authority resting in the Crown as represented by the Lieutenant-Governor and the Bailiff. Since 2005, executive power is exercised by the Chief Minister and other Ministers. The development of the Constitution has seen a gradual separation of the legislature from the judiciary, but the Bailiff remains the president of the States Assembly.

In 2007, the Chief Minister and the UK Lord Chancellor signed an agreement[1] which established a framework for the development of the international identity of Jersey.


The States building in St. Helier

Jersey is a state in which political parties do not currently play an important role. This is likely to change as a result of the introduction of ministerial government in 2006.

Historically, two parties dominated Jersey politics throughout the 19th century and into the 20th century: the Rose Party and the Laurel Party.

Originating in the 1770s, the Jeannot party formed around the radical lawyer and Constable, Jean Dumaresq, who opposed the cabal of Jurats who surrounded Lieutenant-Bailiff Charles Lemprière (whose supporters became known as the Charlot party).

The Jeannots rapidly adopted the nickname of Magots (cheese mites) after their opponents boasted of aiming to crush them like mites.

The Charlots and Magots contested power at elections until in 1819 the progressive Magots adopted the rose as their emblem, while the conservative Charlots wore laurel leaves. The symbolism soon became entrenched to the extent that gardens displayed their owners' allegiances, and pink or green paintwork also showed political sympathies. Still today in Jersey, the presence of established laurels or rose gardens in old houses gives a clue to the past party adherence of former owners, and the chair of the Constable of Saint Helier in the Assembly Room of the Parish Hall still sports the carved roses of a former incumbent.

By the time of the introduction of the secret ballot in 1891, party politics had waned. Blues and Reds contested local elections into the 1920s, but Islandwide party politics lay dormant until the post-Occupation elections under the new Constitution of 1948 saw a struggle for dominance between the Jersey Democratic Movement and the Jersey Progressive Party. Having achieved the political reforms it advocated the Progressive Party soon folded as an organisation, while the Democratic Movement, incorporating the tiny Communist Party of Jersey, continued in existence as a campaigning social movement until the late 20th century.

The Jersey Green Party succeeded in having candidates elected in the 1980s. There were difficulties in maintaining a successful party structure in a consensus government system. Senator Stuart Syvret is often reported to be a Green and represents the Jersey Greens in the Green Islands Network.

With the prospect of ministerial government and the creation of an executive and opposition, the Jersey Democratic Alliance was formed in April 2005 at a mass rally with the intention of fielding candidates in the elections of October and November 2005. The Centre Party was also formed and declared candidates in the 2005 general elections.

National Assembly - The States of Jersey

The legislative power of the Bailiwick rests with the Assembly of the States, of which the Bailiff is the President, or presiding officer. The Queen appoints the Bailiff, also chief judge, to a term that expires approximately when the Bailiff attains the age of seventy years. A Deputy Bailiff is also appointed to a similar term.

The States of Jersey includes 53 elected members:

  • 12 senators (elected for 6-year terms);
  • 12 constables (heads of parishes elected for 3-year terms); and
  • 29 deputies (elected for 3-year terms).

The Senators are elected by the whole Island, while the Deputies are elected to one of a number of constituencies throughout the Island.

In addition to the elected members, there are five non-elected members of the States who are entitled to speak, but not vote - these are:

  • the Bailiff (who also presides over the assembly)
  • the Lieutenant-Governor (who may address the body, but usually does so only on taking and leaving office)
  • the Dean of Jersey (who as the senior Jersey clergyman of the Church of England has a seat in the Assembly ex-officio)
  • HM Attorney General
  • HM Solicitor General (the Attorney General and Solicitor General are appointed by the Queen as Crown officers and serve in the Assembly ex-officio and may speak to provide guidance to the assembly on matters of law)

Decisions in the States are taken by majority vote of the elected members present and voting. Previously the Bailiff had a casting vote in the States and the Lieutenant-Governor had a power of veto. However, these powers were removed by the States of Jersey Law 2005. It should be noted that the Viscount is no longer a member of the States, but he retains his role as executive officer of the States pursuant to the States of Jersey Law 2005.

According to constitutional convention United Kingdom legislation may be extended to Jersey by Order in Council at the request of the Island's government. Whether an Act of the United Kingdom Parliament may expressly apply to the Island as regards matters of self-government, or whether this historic power is now in abeyance, is a matter of legal debate. The States of Jersey Law 2005 established that no United Kingdom Act or Order in Council may apply to the Bailiwick without being referred to the States of Jersey.

Responsibility for government departments was historically exercised by Presidents of Committees. However following the 2005 elections a ministerial system was introduced with a Council of Ministers headed by a Chief Minister, responsible to the States Assembly. The Chief Minister is elected from amongst the elected members of the States. Ministers are then proposed both by the Chief Minister and any other elected member, the final decision being made by the States.

Regional assemblies

Map of the parishes of Jersey

At the regional level Jersey is divided into twelve administrative districts known as parishes. All have access to the sea and are named after the saints to whom their ancient parish churches are dedicated.

The parishes of Jersey are further divided into vingtaines (or, in St. Ouen, cueillettes), divisions which are historic and nowadays mostly used for purposes of electoral constituency in municipal elections. These elections are held to elect the members of the Parish municipality who perform a variety of functions at this regional level.

Political parties

List of political parties in Jersey

Jersey Politicians

List of politicians in Jersey

Elections in Jersey

Elections for Senators and Deputies occur at fixed three-yearly intervals. Elections for Senator (Senatorials) occur in October, with elections for Deputy (nicknamed Deputorials) taking place a month later in November.

Sitting Deputies are able to stand for election as Senator without risking their Deputorial seat. Senators who lose their seats in the Senatorial election are able to attempt a comeback by standing for Deputy in the following election. Senatorials are generally better contested than Deputorials, as it is common for first-time candidates to gain an electoral profile and test their electoral appeal in an Islandwide vote and then, following the Senatorial results, to choose which, if any, constituency to contest as Deputy.

The election for Senators was held on 19 October 2005. 6 seats were available. Both declared parties put forward candidates. The Centre Party fared slightly better, narrowly missing election, but the Jersey Democratic Alliance was likewise rejected by the electorate. Two candidates from the Centre Party were subsequently elected as independents in the Deputies poll on 23 November, three JDA members were elected also as independents. Senator Stuart Syvret is sometimes reported as in the Jersey Green Party.

e • d  Summary of the 19 October and 23 November 2005 States of Jersey election results
Members Seats
Elected Senators 16 October 2002 / Independent 6
Elected Senators 19 October 2005 / Independent 6
Elected Deputies 23 November 2005/ Independent 29
Ex officio members with voting rights (Connétables Independent) 12
Ex officio members without voting rights (Bailiff, Attorney General, Solicitor General and Dean) 4
Total 57

At a regional level posts in parish municipalities vary in length from one to three years and elections take place at a Parish Assembly on a majority basis. It has been some time since parties contested elections at this level, other than for the position of Constable who uniquely sits in both the national and regional assembly.

Political pressure groups

Jersey, as a polity predominated by independents has always had a number of pressure groups. Many ad-hoc lobby groups form in response to a single issue and then dissolve once the concerns have been dealt with. However there are a number of pressure groups actively working to influence government decisions on a number of issues.


Interest Groups

The following groups are funded by their members.


The following groups are, at least, partially funded by government. Appointments are made by the States of Jersey

  • Jersey Finance
  • Community Relations Trust
  • Jersey Overseas Aid
  • Jersey Consumer Council
  • Jersey Legal Information Board
  • Jersey Waterfront Enterprise Board

Legal system

The legal system is based on Norman customary law (including the Clameur de Haro), statute and English law; justice is administered by the Royal Court. There is no strict separation of judiciary and legislature as the Bailiff is the head of both.

Jersey lawyers in court are known as Advocates. The only Queen's Counsel allowed to speak before the court are the Bailiff, Deputy Bailiff, Attorney-General and Solicitor-General.

Since the first law was drafted wholly in the English language in 1928, Jersey law has generally been drafted in English but several laws remain in French. Much of the ceremonial business of the court is still conducted in French, including the prayer. The monopoly of audience of the Jersey Bar and the usage of the official languages are subjects of some controversy.

Appeals against decisions made in the Royal Court may be made to the Court of Appeal of Jersey and thence to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.

International treaties

European Union
Jersey has treaties with the European Union in several specific areas:

For customs purposes, the European Union (EU) distinguishes 3 different tax areas:

  • a customs area
  • an excise area
  • a VAT area

The European Union classes Jersey as part of the Common Customs Territory, not as part of the excise area or the VAT area.

  • Human rights
  • Taxation


Jersey has treaties with the Netherlands in several specific areas:

  • Taxation 20 June 2007
  • Trade 18 March 1970
  • Divorce law 28 May 2002

Participation in international organizations

Jersey is a member of the British-Irish Council, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association and the Assemblée parlementaire de la Francophonie. Jersey is aiming to become a full member of the Commonwealth in its own right.[7]

Jersey has signed up to the provisions of the European Convention of Human Rights (since 1951[8], though this was achieved through Article 53 as a dependency of the United Kingdom. The Human Rights (Jersey) Law 2000[9] made the European Convention justiciable in Jersey law.

See also


External links


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