In advance of a think tank’s report on the health of Irish democracy Vincent Browne issues his verdict – it stinks! He recites the shotrcomings and undemocratic instincts of politicians in power (subs needed), and makes his own modest proposal: that the Republic be subject to elections every second year and that no politicians be allowed to stay in either chamber for more than two terms. Hmmm, the only party he seems to neglect for its part in the Republic’s poor public accountablity is the media.
Mr Browne’s proposal:
As a means of involving a far larger cohort of citizens in the political process, I propose that nobody be entitled to stand for election if they have been elected twice previously and that there be Dáil elections every two years. Yes, I know this will mean you won’t have “experienced” politicos in the Dáil, that the civil servants will ride roughshod over these innocents abroad, that the “wealth” of experience built up by politicians who have been at it for years will be lost to the nation. That two-year parliaments will be awful for it will result in continuous election campaigns. I know.
But, he argues:
…it will mean that over, say, a 20-year period there will be some thousands of people who will have served in the Dáil, who will have had a direct engagement in public affairs. That would mean a lively public debate among serving Dáil members, past Dáil members and future Dáil members, all with some direct experience of involvement in decision-making. A new political literati.