Do you think residents of the Isle of Man should have the right to vote for the head of our government? Or are you content that in a parliamentary democracy it is accepted that elected Members of the House of Keys nominate and elect the Chief Minister from the lower chamber? This was changed in 2018 to ensure that in future only MHKs vote for the Chief Minister, not also Members of the Legislative Council as in previous years including 2016 when Hon. Howard Quayle MHK was elected Chief Minister.

It is something that I have mulled over following participation in a year long course on Parliamentary Governance at McGill University School of Continuing Studies in Canada. I may pursue this with a debate in Tynwald in the future.

In the meantime I am grateful to Professor Peter Edge of Oxford Brookes University who with academic colleagues, Professor Jennifer Corrin (The University of Queensland Law School) and Professor Claire de Than (Jersey Law Commission), produced a paper explaining the system of electing the head of government in the Pacific state of Kiribati and suggesting the potential for a similar system on the Isle of Man – that would enable a Chief Minister in the future to be elected by public vote.

It is best explained in the Executive Summary:

This report examines the unique arrangements for the appointment and removal of the President of the Pacific state of Kiribati, in the context of political, historical and social factors. It outlines the potential for similar mechanisms to be introduced in the Isle of Man, while remaining aware of the significance of the constitutional, geographical and cultural differences between the two jurisdictions. The report concludes that the dual effect of a vote of no confidence in Kiribati’s model, which triggers not only a new Presidential election but also a fresh general election for the legislature, provides a measure of balance between competing democratic mandates. However it is not the only option, and refinements could be made. Requiring a special majority for a vote of no confidence in the President without triggering a general election may also be considered. Attention should also be paid to identifying the desirable number of presidential candidates, and to how they are to be nominated.

I would welcome your thoughts on the idea. The system is fully explained in the Kiribati Report which you can view here.

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