June 30, 2007 - #77
Election For The COM’s First Territorial Council
Sunday, July 1 marked a historic step for Saint Barth as the population voted in the first round of elections for the territorial council that will govern the new Overseas Collectivity of Saint Barth. Nineteen men and women will be elected for the first five year term of the COM, as the island cuts the administrative ties that have linked it to Gaudeloupe since 1946. The president of this council replaces the role of mayor on the island.
Four Lists On The Ballet
Also a “first” in the political history of the island: there were many lists to choose from: four to be exact, submitted to the sub-prefecture in the following order: St-Barth d’Abord, led Bruno Magras, Ensemble pour St-Barthélemy with Benoît Chauvin at the head of the list, Tous unis pour St-Barthélemy, with lawyer Karine Miot at the top, and et Action-Equilibre-Transparence, led by former opposition municipal councilman Maxime Desouches.
The Leaders Of The Lists
Bruno Magras, a member of the UMP party, has 12 years experience as mayor of Saint Barth. His list includes former municipal council members as well as new faces, including local figures that want to enter in politics. Benoît Chauvin is a 35-year-old engineer and a young father who lives with a St Barth native woman. Already concerned with the island’s environmental issues (he founded the association, St. Barth Environnement) and in politics (he is the candidate for MoDem in the legislative elections, and a member of Cap 21, Corinne Lepage’s political party), his list contains a wide range of ages and professions, natives and other residents active in public life over the years.
The lists led by Karine Miot and Maxime Desouches, both of whom are independents, also mixed locals and metropolitans. The three opposition candidates hope to be elected to the territorial council, while not questioning the dominance of Bruno Magras on the political scene.
The Electoral Campaign
While each is different, the platforms have some points in common: the desire to control building, find solutions to the housing problem, protect the environment, create a new fiscal structure, and build a real performing arts venue. Certain touch on other themes such as education (the addition of high school classes on the island, as well as day care centers). For two weeks before the election, the campaign was in full force, with each group holding neighborhood meetings to explain their programs. A debate on Radio Saint Barth on Saturday, June 23 allowed the four leaders of the lists to answer questions from journalists. The candidates also participated in a television broadcast on RFO on Wednesday, June 27. The next day, they were interviewed on RFO radio, in a program that was simultaneously broadcast on Radio Saint Barth. Finally, on Friday, June 29, the last day of the campaign, Radio Saint Barth gave each candidate a 10-minute slot, starting at 12:30pm.
How The Elections Take Place
The winning list automatically gets one third of the seats on the council. There are currently 4,759 registered on the island. In order to win in the first round of voting and win the seven seats accorded to the victor, the winning list must have an absolute majority, and the 12 remaining seats are divided among the four lists. The polls are open from 8am to 8pm. If a second round of voting is necessary, the lists must be submitted at the sub-prefecture between Monday, July 2 and Tuesday, July 3 at 6pm, and voting will take place on Sunday, July 8.