SENATOR John Le Fondré today became the first Chief Minister to lose his seat in the States following a dramatic election night which saw voters deliver a damning verdict on the past four years of government.
The veteran politician was among a series of Jersey Alliance candidates who failed to secure a seat as the fledgling party suffered blow after blow at the polls.
But as Alliance licked their wounds at their base at The Royal Yacht hotel, there were jubilant scenes at Reform Jersey’s headquarters at the Royal Hotel in David Place, after the party doubled its number of elected members. Ten of its 14 candidates secured a seat, mainly after a series of triumphs in its heartland of St Helier.
A total of 11 sitting Members – including fellow Alliance candidates Assistant Treasury Minister Lindsay Ash, Home Affairs Minister Gregory Guida and Assistant Chief Minister Rowland Huelin – also crashed out of the Assembly.
The catalogue of defeats – which saw party leader and proposed Chief Minister candidate Sir Mark Boleat finish a distant last in St Clement – now leaves the future of the party in tatters.
Trinity Constable Philip Le Sueur, who was elected unopposed but faced a strong challenge from ‘none of the above’, which received a third of the votes in the parish, is left as the only Alliance member in the States.
The party had started the night with 14 candidates.
Speaking after the votes were announced, Senator Le Fondré said: ‘I’m disappointed but congratulations to the successful candidates.
‘There were lots of people who were positive and some who weren’t but clearly those who were positive didn’t turn out.
‘I am proud of what we did during the pandemic. We did save lives and we did leave the economy in a good state and reserves are higher than ever before and we did a whole range of things which have never been done before. But obviously people think it is time for a change and we respect that.’
Speaking as it emerged that his party would wield significant power in the new Assembly, leader Sam Mézec said: ‘I’m extremely proud that Reform Jersey has made such impressive gains. It shows that the number of people in Jersey have confidence in the party and it’s a chance for Jersey to change how politics is done. Hopefully it’s symbolic of a change.’
The future is less clear for the Jersey Liberal Conservatives, which secured just two seats – for party leader and Chief Minister candidate Sir Philip Bailhache, who was returned to the States after finishing third in St Clement, and Maclolm Ferey, who tasted success in St Saviour.
And the Progress Party suffered a torrid night – losing its leader, Senator Steve Pallet, and seeing its two new candidates fail to make the cut. Only party secretary Deputy Steve Luce secured a seat.
Commenting on a personal victory amid a disappointing night for his party, Sir Philip Bailhache said: ‘My immediate reaction to the result is that the electorate has demonstrated that it wants change and it has indicated that in its voting.
‘It is took early to say what this means for parties and for the Jersey Liberal Conservatives. One will need to reflect on the position of the parties as a whole.’
Alliance leader Sir Mark Boleat, who suffered a further embarrassment when he lost an extra vote after a recount, said it was too early to decide on the future of his party.
‘Obviously I’m very disappointed with the result… That’s democracy and one accepts it. I think one would need to look at all the results as to whether people were attracted to parties or not but on the basis of this, clearly the party vote has not gone as one would have wished. I’m not thinking about the future. I’ve enjoyed the campaign. I’ve met some great people. I don’t regret standing at all – that’s democracy.’
Four members of the Better Way coalition – Senator Kristina Moore, former JEP journalist Lucy Stephenson, Alex Curtis and Cooper and Co owner David Warr – all secured a seat.