Europe,  Vote 2008

Telegraph road brings democracy

Today democracy will be extended to the last corner of feudal Europe. The Channel Island of Sark, a crown dependency, will have its first elections in over 400 years. According to the BBC:

The smallest of the four main Channel Islands has marked its place in history by giving islanders the right to elect its government after nearly 450 years of feudal rule.

On Wednesday, at the polling station in Island Hall’s snooker room, Sarkees will choose 28 conseillers (politicians) from a total of 57 candidates – about 12% of the island’s 474-strong electorate.

Some candidates have focussed on protecting and preserving the island’s gentle and traditional way of life, while others have campaigned to bring more of the 21st Century to Sark.

Apparently the road to democracy started when the billionaire owners of the Telegraph Group, Sir David and Sir Frederick Barclay, challenged the feudal system after purchasing a neighbouring island, which it seems came under Sark’s law, or at least the rule of Sark’s Lord, Seigneur Michael Beaumont.

The Barclay brothers wanted to change the inheritance laws so that they could leave the land to all their children. Sark’s law still held that only the eldest son could inherit. This, apparently was the catalyst for a process that finally brought democracy to the island.

There’s more on this fascinating story here, and all the anorak stuff at Wikipedia

But let us extend our best wishes to our Sarkian neighbours as they head for the polls today and throw off the yoke of feudal oppression.