10th December 2008

Sark holds its first election

When Sark held its first democratic election, every seat in its legislative body – the Chief Pleas – was up for grabs. Previously, only a minority had been directly elected, with the remainder held by descendants of Sark’s original settlers.

On this occasion, 57 islanders competed for the 28 available Conseillers seats. Two remaining places were not up for election, as they were filled by the Seigneur, John Michael Beaumont, to whom one seat was a hereditary right, and the Seneschal, who was appointed.

The elected chamber met for the first time early in 2009. Half of those elected in 2008 won a four-year term, with the rest serving two-years. This meant that future elections would take place every two years, and each one would replace 50% of the chamber, allowing for a degree of continuity between sessions.

Success for reformers

The election had come about because of changes made to Sark’s laws earlier in the year, which had brought its feudal legal system to an end and replaced it with democracy. It is probably not coincidental that 23 of the 28 candidates elected in the December 2008 election had been in favour of the change, while only five had spoken against it. Prior to the change, its legal system had been in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Despite there being 474 registered electors on the island, only one voting booth was set up to serve them. It was situated in the snooker room at Island Hall and open between 10am and 6pm on the day of the election. Once the votes had been counted, the final turnout was calculated to have been 87%.

A recount was ordered for the 28th seat as the result was so close, which fortunately proved decisive as, if it hadn’t, a second election for the final seat would have been scheduled for 9 January the following year. A contingency was already in place to handle this.


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Other events that occured in December

French fishing boats prepare to invade 1st
Two cargo ships collide on their way to Guernsey 2nd
Guernseyman Herbert Le Patourel wrongly thought killed 3rd
A Guernsey funeral takes place in Cornwall 4th
Guernsey steamship SS Rossgull is wrecked 5th
The Guernsey Tapestry is completed 6th
Air UK Fokker overshoots Guernsey runway 7th
Naftel’s paintings go on display 8th
Guernsey and Jersey newspapers agree to merge 9th
Sark holds its first election 10th
Beau Sejour opens for business 11th
Victor Hugo flees France and Napoleon 12th
Explorer Edmund Kennedy is speared to death 13th
Author Mary Ann Shaffer is born
Herm bribery case comes to court 14th
Alderney’s evacuees return to their island 15th
Guillaume de Beauvoir appointed dean of English Church in Geneva 16th
Castle Cornet surrenders to Guernsey 17th
Telex, phones and telegram cables go quiet 18th
Guernsey shipwreck results in starvation 19th
Channel Islands Securities Exchange founded 20th
G-COBO has a bumpy flight 21st
Guernsey struck by an earthquake 22nd
William Hedley Cliff buys Jethou 23rd
Wombles author Liza Beresford dies 24th
Asterix is discovered in St Peter Port harbour 25th
Guille and Alles lease the Assembly Rooms 26th
The Red Cross saves Guernsey from starvation 27th
Operation Hardtack targets the Channel Islands 28th
Ebenezer Le Page author GB Edwards dies 29th
Castle Cornet is struck by lightning 30th
Guernsey Police makes the world’s first underwater arrest 31st