Political parties

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A Rose Party election campaign

In recent times, Jersey's States has operated without political parties, members being elected as independent individuals, but severe political unrest in the early 18th century led to the creation of parties, and a period of considerable bitterness and even violence.

Few elections

At this time the opportunities to elect Members of the States were few and far between. Jurats were elected for life, and some places on the bench were virtually hereditary, passing from seigneurs of senior fiefs to seigneurs' sons. Rectors sat in the States by virtue of their appointment, which was also held for life. Only the 12 Constables, who also served in the States by virtue of their parochial office, had to stand for re-election every three years. And in many parishes, when a Constable decided to retire it was almost a foregone conclusion that his son, or another close relative, would take his place.

When islanders began to get very concerned at what was happening to their currency at the end of the 17th century, and there were moves to control the flow of money in and out of the island, there were few seats which those seeking changes of policy could hope to contest.

A period of considerable unrest was followed by riots over currency devaluation and the first party to be formed was the Magot Party. The party, or political grouping, had been in place for some time before, known as the Jeannots, after Sir Jean Dumaresq. This name then became Magot, and when in the 19th century it adopted a rose as its emblem, the party changed its name to Rose Party.

The radical Magots were soon opposed by the pro-establishment Charlots, who were supporters of Charles Lempriere, who ruled over the Royal Court and States, in the absence of the non-resident Bailiffs, as Lieut-Bailiff on and off from 1750 to 1781. He was an autocratic ruler and he became increasingly unpopular with his own Jurats. One of his leading opponents was Sir Jean Dumaresq.

It was in the 19th century that the two parties became known as the Laurel Party and the Rose Party, after St Ouen supporters provided each with an emblem and a new name. The Magots sported a rose when campaigning and the Charlots a laurel leaf.

Prominent party politicians

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Newspaper records

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