Alliance wants MLA numbers cut

According to a recent vox pop on Morning Ireland the Northern Ireland Assembly is not popular just now. Hoping to built its credentials of trust, David Ford has called for the Assembly to be cut from 109 members down to about 80.

  • pakman

    90 (5 per Westminster constituency) was the preferred UUP model in 1998. 108 is monstrous when compared to the Welsh (60 AMs) and Scottish (129 MSPs) devolution schemes. If you take these numbers (and the old Stormont Parlaiment) NI should have a regional legislature of 54 (3 per Westminster constituency). The biggest advantage of reducing legislators would be to slim down the entire Assembly edifice leaving only a clear minority of MLAs on the Executive pay roll. You could not have ten departments with 54 MLAs and that would be a very good thing.

  • davidbrew

    And look at the people who came in 4th, 5th and 6th in some constituencies. That useless lot selling the Big Issue on Great Victoria Street would hardly diminish the political talent pool here.

  • pakman

    to say nothing of those luminaries in 1st, 2nd and 3rd…

  • vespasian

    DB

    What about those that came 1, 2,and 3, they are litle better.

    Few parties here have real talent beyond 2 or 3 people, by and large those who can do things go and make some money those who can’t go into full time politics. So inevitably most politicians are already picked from a failed gene pool. There are noticiable exceptions of those who have made their money and then turn to politics for their ego.

    You can label all the full time politicians here somewhere amongst those groupings

  • beano; EverythingUlster.com

    I think I suggested on EverythingUlster.com that 72 would be a good start (4 per constituency). I’m not sure where the 80 would come from, with the current constituencies at least – although I’ve thought recently that Newtownabbey deserved it’s own constituency.

  • fair_deal

    As the manifesto isn’t online can someone tell me how they get to the figure of 80 MLA’s from 18 constituencies or are they advocating a NI-wide constituency for Assembly elections?

  • pakman

    beano

    it depends on how you elect them. In Scotland & Wales there is a mixed first past the post system/ regional list system which mixes constituency representatives with those from a party list to give some proportionality. This system allows for minor/ fringe party representation (Tories, SSP and the Greens in Holyrood). Could APNI be thinking along those lines? Four per constituency with 8 from a province wide list?

  • beano; EverythingUlster.com

    Pakman, I know the Scottish system involved some sort of top-up, I was just working on the current constituencies and system in the absence of any other suggestion from Ford, who seemed to ignore it. From what I’ve read of the Scottish system it seemed quite good – wasn’t aware of the FPTP bit though, thought it was still some sort of PR with a topup. You learn something new every day, eh.

  • pakman

    beano

    what, Ford ignoring political realities!?!

    From what I cam recall both the Scottish and Welsh sysytems are a variation of the “Additional Member” system where the supposed defects of FPTP are mitigated to some degree by the party lists. I hear that Labour is keen to ditch it in Scotland and is offering STV at council level to the LibDems as a sweetener.

  • pakman

    beano

    what, Ford ignoring political realities!?!

    From what I cam recall both the Scottish and Welsh sysytems are a variation of the “Additional Member” system where the supposed defects of FPTP are mitigated to some degree by the party lists. I hear that Labour is keen to ditch it in Scotland and is offering STV at council level to the LibDems as a sweetener.

  • George T

    Is David Ford sure he wants the Assembly numbers cut down? Its goodbye to the Alliance party if thats the case! David wont win another election to Stormont anyway, he was almost beaten by SF in SOUTH ANTRIM!! lol

  • pakman

    George T

    perhaps that is why a list system in some shape or form would suit him. Call me cynical if you will…

  • peter

    Oh dear political suicide for rhe Alliance party. There six MLAs were all elected to the sixth seat in their constituencies,most without reaching the quota.

    Anyway I doubt the current Assembly will ever meet. It will be abolished and fresh negotiations will begin some time after the DUP sweep in the elections.

  • IJP

    Ay, that’s right lads, Alliance should think only of its own prospects when working out a sensible election system for the NI Assembly. I mean, basing it on what might be sensible for NI would be wrong, wouldn’t it?!

    fair_deal

    The manifesto says ‘about 80’ and says nothing about how they should be elected (i.e. about constituencies to be used). It’s not a major issue at this particular election. The principle, basically, is that there are too many.

  • fair_deal

    IJP

    When does the manifesto go online?

  • Keith M

    80 is still too many for was is basically a regional assembly with limited exicutive powers. 60 should be closer to the mark.

  • PS

    For once I find myself agreeing with the Alliance. Beano’s suggestion of 72 sounds about right.

  • beano; EverythingUlster.com

    I think I got the 72 figure from a DUP comment ages ago (although I could be wrong) and it would seem fairly obvious if they’re going to keep the current voting system. However, it does kind of sound like the sort of thing that while everyone agrees on it, may never happen (largely due to its similarity to turkeys voting for Christmas) and could drag on for years, much like PR for Westminster.

  • IJP

    fair_deal

    I don’t know, but very soon!

    Email me (as above) and I’ll get you an electronic copy this eve.

    (I should emphasize although I’m helping out centrally with the election voluntarily as best I can, I’m in my day job, not working for the party!)

  • Scarlet

    No Alliance seat is safe so this must be Alliance trying to ensure its survival by using a province wide list system. Personally I don’t like lists as I prefer to vote for the individual and not the party. A list would ensure Alliance careers into the future PRSTV does not. It could also drag in a few Greens and perhaps even a Socialist but I remain of the view that lists give too much power to the parties. (only lap dogs get to be at the top of the party list).

    For myself I don’t care how many there are as long as they are not being paid when the place is not functioning. Close the place wind up the allowances etc it is an obsurd waste of money just now. Perhaps one of the ways to reduce costs is reduce their salaries and allowances when it eventually resurfaces..

  • beano; EverythingUlster.com

    I’m for the party list. Whether you like it or not when you cast a vote for a candidate who is in a party you are de facto voting also for that party as well. Personally I think our system (or the UK wide one anyway) should have a seperately elected executive to counteract this, replace the PM with a President or something. Maybe not workable on a local level having said that – we have too many elections as it is.

  • scarlet

    Beano

    What about independents?

    Someone once said to me why not just use a lottery from the general population to see who represents us and as time goes on this proposal seems saner by the day.

  • beano; EverythingUlster.com

    Good point, although I suppose it depends how much weight is given to the ‘top-up’ factor whether the independents are that important in the equation or not.

    Would be interested to see how the Scottish system has affected the standing of independents there.

  • George

    Totally against the party list because then you would always have the same old tired faces.

    For example, if Trimble lost in Upper Bann, he’d be the first name on the UUP list.

  • pakman

    beano

    try using google! The lunatic fringe eg Tommy Sherridan MSP and his SSP comrades got elected on the list (as did the Scottish Tories bar one constituency MSP). In the 1996 Forum elections a top up system delivered the PUP, the UDP (remember them?), the Womens’ Coalition (remember them?) and the Labour Coalition (remember them?). Be careful what you wish for!

  • Young Fogey

    Dennis Canavan is now safe as an Independent in his Falkirk West FPTP seat, while local health campaigners took the East Dunbartonshire FPTP Seat in the last Scottish Parliament elections.

    The Pensioners Party won a seat on the list in Central Scotland (?) last time as well.

    Scotland may well move to good old STV soon anyway – the 2007 local elections is Scotland will be fought under STV.

  • Young Fogey

    Oh, yes, Alliance is definitely committed to STV. There is no requirement for the Assembly and Westminster constituencies to match – Scotland already has different boundaries for the two bodies.

    An 80 seat Assembly could come from a variety of schemes involving 5-7 or even 4-8 seat STV constituencies. Fermanagh might even get a stand alone three seater!

    Personally, I hate party lists which only reward people who grease the right bums internally. I’m all for STV which gives people a chance to tweak the nose of the establishment whenever they choose to take it.

  • Gonzo

    The Alliance manifesto is here.