Sark’s Democratically Approved Democratic Reform?

In today’s Guernsey Press, Peter Roffey writes that “the people of Sark agreed and voted for democratic reform in a historic referendum.”

The opinion poll (not a referendum) which Mr. Roffey presumably refers to, which was held in 2006, asked respondents to indicate a preference between two nearly identical options of “democratic” reform. The people were not merely not offered the option of no “democratic” reform, it was made crystal clear that this option was not an option. To say that the people of Sark voted for “democratic” reform is quite the same as saying that the man who was given the options of being put to death by hanging or by being shot chose to die voluntarily.

Mr Roffey states that the reform made Chief Pleas “fully democratic”. The reform in fact created an unelected, for-life position of president of the legislature, president of the judiciary, licensing authority, electoral returning officer, etc. etc. In 27BC, the Roman Republic underwent a reform which saw the creation of an appointed, for-life, non-hereditary, prince of the senate, tribune of the people, etc. etc. — powers which largely mirror those of Sark’s Seneschal. In Ancient Rome the Senate, as in the Holy Roman Empire, the Reichstag, were both theoretically superior to the emperor himself. Does Mr Roffey therefore think that those two empires were also “fully democratic” and that the 27BC reform of the Roman Republic was also a transition to “full democracy”?

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