Thursday, October 17th 2013 - 12:39 UTC

Falkland Islands: General Election with a difference

Preparations are under way in the Falkland Islands for a General Election to be held on November 7 this year and 4.30pm on October 17th marks the last moments for would be Members of the Islands Legislative Council to announce their candidacy. This year the list of candidates will be subject to particular scrutiny.

New candidate for election: Phyl Rendell

General elections in the Falkland Islands are held every four years and are generally fairly muted affairs compared with those in other countries; beyond evenly apportioned air time on the local radio (FIRS) and an equal allotment of words in the national weekly newspaper, Penguin News, there is little in the way of obvious campaigning: maybe a few leaflets in the post office to be picked up or discarded, but no posters, no loudspeaker vans touring the streets and no mass rallies of supporters.

Candidates for the eight available places on the Islands´ Legislative Council, from which the three voting members of the Executive Council are drawn, belong to no political parties, simply because in the Islands there are no political parties. In the past, also, while members received expenses for necessary travel and some remuneration for the number of meetings attended they received no salary as such and were free to devote as much or as little time to their official duties as they felt able or inclined to do. However, after the upcoming General Election all that will change.

Following the recommendations of a three-man panel chaired by former long-term Member of the Falklands´ Legislative Assembly, Richard Cockwell, which was set up to consider remuneration for Assembly Members, but also to attempt to define their future roles and responsibilities, the eight men or women chosen by the electorate this year will receive a salary, thought to be in the region of ₤40,000 per year. They will also be expected to work full-time, giving up whatever employment or business interests they might have had, for the duration of their time in office.

The aims behind this somewhat draconian change, which admits for the first time the possibility of politics as a profession in the Falkland Islands, were, in the main two-fold. One reason was the feeling expressed by previous Assembly Members that their work load had increased exponentially in recent years to the point where it left no time for other interests and activities.

Perceived in certain quarters as more urgent as the country begins to face up to a period of great change and growth with the establishment of an oil industry, was the need to attract into the Assembly, a younger, more accomplished set of candidates. With very few exceptions the only people available to stand for election in the past were the independently wealthy, the retired, or, some would claim, the impoverished and unemployable. The hope was that by offering a reasonable, but not excessive, salary not only would some status be added to the position of Legislative Assembly Member, but that it would encourage to consider standing a younger group, already successfully engaged in other careers.

While the final list of candidates has still to be published, it is mainly composed of former Members seeking re-election or former unsuccessful candidates seeking to be elected for the first time. Newcomers are few, including former senior civil servant Phyl Rendell, former lawyer Melanie Gilding and, as the only candidate under the age of thirty, Penguin News journalist and accomplished artist, Teslyn Barkman.

Richard Cockwell said that while he was pleased that his panel´s recommendations had been largely accepted, he was somewhat disappointed that the new arrangements did not appear to have made much difference to the type of person coming forward, “I had hoped”, he said, “that we would have had more than one of the up-and-coming younger generation who had benefited from the forward-thinking educational system standing.”

President of the Falkland Islands Chamber of Commerce, Roger Spink, was waiting to see how the election turned out before commenting, but ventured the opinion that he had entertained “no great hopes” that the new arrangements would “change the world immediately”, but was sure that they would have an effect in the long term.

by  John Fowler - MercoPress

16 comments Feed

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1 Gonzo22 (#) Oct 17th, 2013 - 02:32 pm Report abuse
Phyl Rendell makes the difference? This woman couldn't make a difference even if she wanted! haha Never power to the people, always power to the corporations haha
2 Conqueror (#) Oct 17th, 2013 - 02:41 pm Report abuse
I think Roger Spink is right. All in good time. In the Mother of Parliaments, it was an evolving process. But fuelled, initially, by a desire for reform and wider representation. This doesn't really seem to exist in the Falklands. As the yanks say, “If it ain't broke, don't fix it”. Just let the people decide!
3 golfcronie (#) Oct 17th, 2013 - 02:47 pm Report abuse
Gonzo obviously cannot read English. Phyl Rendell was a former senior civil servant, nothing to do with corporations.
4 GFace (#) Oct 17th, 2013 - 02:51 pm Report abuse
@2 This REALLY hasn't been the last couple weeks to look to us for legislative guidance....

But I'll kvetch anyway. Why is Cockwell bemoaning how a now-fulltime big-league FIG isn't attracting junior professionals? It is THEY who will be the people who make things work at the ground-level and their dynamism is needed to grow all parts of the Island economy. Once established, THEN they can turn themselves over for full-time public service -- they certainly can serve the islands and work with the FIG for now but they will be needed to make great stuff happen. Exciting times for all, I think!
5 redp0ll (#) Oct 17th, 2013 - 02:54 pm Report abuse
True democracy in action La Campora putting up a candidate Bonzo?
6 Benson (#) Oct 17th, 2013 - 03:21 pm Report abuse
@1 Do you know Phyl? I think she'll make a very competent MLA if she gets in.
7 JoJo (#) Oct 17th, 2013 - 07:45 pm Report abuse
@6 not “if” but “when” :) !
8 Pete Bog (#) Oct 17th, 2013 - 07:56 pm Report abuse
I believe that some of the politicians should be financed purely to travel the world like roving ambassadors to counter Argentina's lies-and still leave enough politicians to do their job in the islands.

In most countries politicians getting more money would be frowned upon. But I get the impression that FI politicians HAVE to be effective as there is no escape from the local population-no guarded mansions behind steel gates etc etc and they need to be paid something (they have been extremely good value so far).

This is another improvement in keeping FI politicians focused on their job, another improvement sparked in part by CFK.

Thanks Kristina.
9 redp0ll (#) Oct 17th, 2013 - 10:29 pm Report abuse
What has happened to our resident comic, the doleful foghorn from Chubut? Sent off to do scarecrow duty on his turnip patch in disgrace?
I say:
Come back, Think. We miss your comic interludes on these threads.Come back soon
Chuckle chuckle
10 CabezaDura (#) Oct 18th, 2013 - 01:17 am Report abuse
9) Hey Think, redpoll is calling you back (billingually) cant you hear him???

Chuckle chuckle
11 Benson (#) Oct 18th, 2013 - 09:47 am Report abuse
@7 I think you're probably right, she'll have a lot of support.
12 lsolde (#) Oct 18th, 2013 - 09:54 am Report abuse
Think's taken Holy Vows.
Hes seen the error of his ways.
lts alright, Think, we forgive you.
Just say “The Falklands belong to the Falklanders”, 100 times a day.
13 Faz (#) Oct 18th, 2013 - 11:04 am Report abuse
Think, has the electric gone off where you are or cant you now afford SSEs prices? My advice is to switch!
14 redp0ll (#) Oct 18th, 2013 - 12:30 pm Report abuse
@12 Must be a Trappist monastery where they are under a vow of silence. Probabably just a temporary Retreat and hopefully he will soon be back to entertain us with some new monk-ey tricks?
15 Justthefacts (#) Oct 18th, 2013 - 12:50 pm Report abuse
With the greater time available for Government duties by its members, I suggest a natural progression in the Falkland's journey towards eventual nationhood (that is, if and when it's inhabitants choose to do so).

My understanding is that Britain's only responsibility in the Falklands is defence and foreign relations. The former won't be changing in the foreseeable future, but why not formally hand the latter over to FIG to reflect what is already happening to a large extent? From what I have seen, the amateur unpaid part-time diplomats in FIG consistently manage to make complete fools out of the supposed professionals in Buenos Aires (although admittedly they get a lot of help from the aforementioned fools themselves) and do so in a manner that makes it all look so effortless. They are more than capable of representing themselves to the world already and will be more so once they themselves become full time professionals. Such a change would further increase the Island's autonomy, help negate the false accusations that the FI MLA's are merely London's mouthpieces, and demonstrate the Island's independence to all of its latin american neighbours.
16 Pete Bog (#) Oct 24th, 2013 - 09:48 pm Report abuse
@ 15
”The former won't be changing in the foreseeable future, but why not formally hand the latter over to FIG to reflect what is already happening to a large extent? From what I have seen, the amateur unpaid part-time diplomats in FIG consistently manage to make complete fools out of the supposed professionals in Buenos Aires (although admittedly they get a lot of help from the aforementioned fools themselves) and do so in a manner that makes it all look so effortless.”

It is happening-the Islanders are as you say taking over their foreign policy, and without the huge numbers the Argentinian government have at their disposal are having a bigger impact per head of population.

It's not hard to figure out.

The Argentines with 40 million and a less than effective government screw up their country with great success.
The Islanders with 3000 people run their economy and society effectively, increasing their wealth.

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