A REFERENDUM on the question of whether the Falklands should be a Single Constituency will be held on Thursday November 7 next year.
The Falkland Islands Government announced on Tuesday that it will ask people whether they want a single constituency for the whole of the Islands.
This date has been agreed in order to allow sufficient time for necessary Government preparations, both in terms of the logistics required to run a referendum and for amendments to be made to the Electoral Ordinance and the Constitution (prior to the next General Election) should the outcome of the referendum show that the public desire this change.
Currently the Falkland Islands is divided into two constituencies: Stanley and Camp. These were established by Section 27 of the Constitution and the Government is able to amend the Constitution with respect to constituency divisions and boundaries, without requiring bilateral discussions with the UK.
The referendum will only seek to engage with the public on the matter of a single constituency and not on any other potential changes to the electoral system. Voters will be able to participate at the ballot box or by postal vote. Further information will be able closer to the time of the referendum.
There have been two referenda on question of a single constituency, in 2001 and 2011 but the proposal was rejected on both occasions, however in the 2011 referendum a narrow majority of voters in Stanley supported the proposal
Why then if the concept had been rejected twice was it now felt necessary to ask the question again.
MLA Roger Edwards, Quarterly Chair for the Legislative Assembly commented: “It was probably the very poor turnout of Candidates in Camp at the last election that triggered this decision. With myself and probably Ian [MLA Hansen] not standing at the next election then we do wonder who will stand for Camp?”
He said when this was discussed among the Members they were unanimously in favour of holding a Referendum, “and the mid -term seemed the most sensible time so that various minor electoral changes can be put in place.”]
Asked if like the last two times two thirds of the Stanley and Camp voters would have to be in favour for any changes to be made MLA Edwards said: “The Two Thirds vote in favour (for both Constituencies) is a constitutional thing and cannot change without constitutional change but that is something for a later date.”
He added: “I have certainly picked up a change in attitude in Camp to a Single Constituency and will be very surprised if that this time the vote does not support change.”