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How politically apathetic is Guernsey?
St Peter Port High Street
People in town seemed to be mixed in their apathy toward local politics

The build up to the 2010 general election in the UK saw the media flooded with the UK's top politicians.

But how well do people in Guernsey know their own government, the States?

We asked some people in St Peter Port and got a mixed reaction. One man said: "I don't know any of them, they're all anonymous people."

When we asked people who was involved with a certain issue, they tended to know the answer, but not when we asked by the name of the department.

For example, several people knew Deputy Bernard Flouquet was in charge of waste issues, but fewer knew he was minister of the Public Services Department.

The younger people we asked seemed to know even less, though one did say: "Gollop, he's in there somewhere, I seen him dancing in Baloos once!"

The same youngster admitted that even though he did not know much about local politics now he thought his interest would probably grow as he got older.

What is the cure for this apparent level of apathy?

One of the people we spoke to suggested that Switzerland had a good system for engaging people in politics. He said: "They have direct democracy and anything that's contentious they hold a referendum, so the whole population is involved about four times a year."

Deputy Lyndon Trott
Deputy Trott said political apathy was always an issue

Guernsey's Chief Minister, Lyndon Trott, said: "Politicians throughout the world always struggle with political apathy. It takes issues that have a particular impact on someone's life to bring an energy to politics as a general rule."

He explained that though he would like people to be more engaged with politics he thought that apathy was a sign that things were going well as people tend to become more engaged in politics in times of strife.

So, Deputy Trott said: "Let apathy reign as long as economic prosperity continues."

Following the Chief Minister's comments we spoke to Deputy Matt Fallaize, who is the youngest deputy in the States of Guernsey, and Lee Van Katwyk, who was the youngest candidate in the 2008 deputies election.

Deputy Fallaize said Deputy Trott's view was "slightly bizarre" and pointed out that there were a lot of successful places in the world that had quite a high public participation in politics.

He added that politicians should: "take politics to the people... communication has to be from politicians and government to people as well as as the other way round."

Lee Van Katwyk said what makes people interested in politics is what touches their "hearts and lives" so he said: "There is no magic formula, it's not like you can get people interested on the smaller boring issues that get rambled upon, especially younger people, but we do need to have that interest."

Do you think Guernsey is politically apathetic? Why do you think it is and what would make you get interested in local politics?


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