Channel Island Votes to Ditch 400 Years of 'Unfair' Feudalism; Cart Blanche: The Elections Will Give Residents of Sark, Where Cars Are Banned, More Say in Their Affairs

The Evening Standard (London, England), December 11, 2008 | Go to article overview

Channel Island Votes to Ditch 400 Years of 'Unfair' Feudalism; Cart Blanche: The Elections Will Give Residents of Sark, Where Cars Are Banned, More Say in Their Affairs


Byline: ED HARRIS

MORE than four centuries of feudalism on the Channel island of Sark were coming to an end today after the inhabitants voted for their first democratic government.

The tiny island could claim until recently to be the last remaining feudal territory in Europe, governed by a mix of landowners and a small minority of elected representatives.

But polls opened on the three-squaremile territory in a modest snooker room yesterday morning and the 28 new members of parliament, known as Chief Pleas, were expected to be announced today.

The old parliament voted for a new constitution in January which was approved by the Privy Council in London.

It meant the 28 elected members would represent the island's 600 people, replacing the previous system of 40 landowners and 12 elected "deputies".

A total of 56 candidates stood in the historic poll to become an unpaid Chief Plea. Turn-out among the 474 people on the electoral roll was "very high", according to Sark resident Sue Daly, 42, who has been acting as press officer for the island 80 miles off the south coast of England.

It's all everybody is talking about," she said "We were a bit stunned by how much interest there is. …

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