Boundary impacts

The Republic’s election proved a bad one for the smaller parties and independents with a net loss of 16 seats. When boundary proposals were made they were criticised as suiting the larger parties. Was Thursday’s poor results partly a case of the boundary review chickens coming home to roost?

  • Brian Boru

    Partly. Certainly SF’s Joe Reilly’s prospects of taking a seat were destroyed by the carve of Meath into Meath East and Meath West. Likewise the abolition of Longford-Roscommon lost Mae Sexton (PD) some of her base – but then again she lost around 2/3rds of her Longford vote.

  • Leo

    There are equally valid arguments to be made against that. Dublin Mid-West expanded to a 4 seater, and elected a Labour TD. Laois-Offaly didn’t change and Tom Parlon lost out. Dublin South-West didn’t change and Sean Crowe lost after topping the poll the last time. Dublin North-Central dropped from a 3 to a 4-seater, and it was Ivor Callelly from FF who missed out.

  • Tochais Síoraí

    I reckon SF would probably have taken a seat if Leitrim hadn’t been split. Don’t think Greens were affected by boundary changes. But aside form the smaller parties I don’t think the intra party competition within constituencies is at all healthy for a demcocracy and it perpetrates the clientelest nature of politics in the Rep. Maybe we need to look at PR single seat constituencies and a regional list system (perhaps in NI as well).

  • jaffa

    “Maybe we need to look at PR single seat constituencies and a regional list system (perhaps in NI as well).”

    I’d worry about a party like Alliance effectively having no constituency MP’s with everyone elected by list, in which case you swap local clientelism for party hackery.

    Perhaps clientelism keeps MLA’s close to their “customers”.

  • Tochais Síoraí

    Fair point, jaffa – but maybe there’s a balance between the clientelism and the hackery somewhere. As it is, too many TDs spend their time doing the work of councillors and civil servants and showing their face in the constituency. Thus the people who spend their time making important contributions to Dáil committees and the like can get shafted at election time whilst Paddy Joe who attends five funerals a week tops the poll.

  • curious

    Sinn Fein result ‘no surprise’

    ‘Mr Ahern will begin to form a government It was not a surprise Sinn Fein did so badly in last week’s general election, Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern has claimed. Mr Ahern said young people in the Republic were “not tuned in to a party with Marxist socialist policies”. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/6697749.stm

  • Paddy Matthews

    FutureTaoiseach/Brian Boru:

    Likewise the abolition of Longford-Roscommon lost Mae Sexton (PD) some of her base – but then again she lost around 2/3rds of her Longford vote.

    No, it didn’t cost her any significant part of her base – she had taken no more than 200 votes in Roscommon last time out.

    What cost her the seat was:

    a) you actually had an active Fine Gael candidate this time, and Mae had only got in in the first place because she had managed to edge past the previous Fine Gael incumbent.

    b) the Cardinal Healthcare fiasco after the last election.

    c) the fact that she was a member of an extremely unpopular political party. Sexton’s newspaper ads made absolutely no mention of the political party she belonged to because she knew it was poison. Unfortunately for her, the voters were not as amnesiac.

  • pat

    Agreed Sinn Féin would clearly have taken 2 seats in Meath and Sligo/Leitrim had they not been split.

  • Brian Boru

    “Maybe we need to look at PR single seat constituencies and a regional list system (perhaps in NI as well).”

    No thanks. The list-system denies the voters their right to throw out corrupt politicians while still voting for the political party those politicians come from.

  • Tochais Síoraí

    The current system didn’t seem to stop Lawlor, Burke, Lowry, Haughey et al. Maybe a list system might make the parties put the candidates with questions marks further down the list as they wouldn’t want to compromise their overall vote by putting Seamus the builders friend near the top (a list system could allow voters the facility to vote within the list as well).

    A total focus on local issues puts TDs & to a lesser extent MLAs under intense pressure to support non-viable local interests e.g 3 neighbouring constituencies all wanting a major hospital in their area when one larger one would do the whole lot. The current system also just encourages TDs from the same party to compete with each other to see who can attend the most funerals or get the most medical cards.

  • Valenciano

    “Maybe a list system might make the parties put the candidates with questions marks further down the list as they wouldn’t want to compromise their overall vote by putting Seamus the builders friend near the top (a list system could allow voters the facility to vote within the list as well).”

    That’s not how it works in Spain, where such candidates will be about the middle of the list – not near enough to the top to attract negative publicity but not close enough to the bottom to put them in serious jeopardy. In short you’ve no chance at all to chuck em out at election time.

    As for Burke, Haughey et al, Lawlor would almost certainly have lost his seat had he been around to stand. As for the rest, I think they’d have been elected regardless of the voting system due to the propsenity of the Irish electorate to turn a blind eye to things like that.

    “A total focus on local issues puts TDs & to a lesser extent MLAs under intense pressure to support non-viable local interests ”

    But a list system does exactly the opposite and allows MPs to completely ignore local feeling.

  • Tochais Síoraí

    So maybe half the reps locally elected – 1 per constituency and half from regional (as opposed to national) lists.

  • Valenciano

    Even worse. You then have two types of MPs, one set who have to attend to local issues and the other, usually party hacks, who can do whatever they like. The only way to make them responsive is to have regional lists but the problem is that they don’t achieve proportionality so defeat the object entirely. Spain uses regional lists which mainly have 3-7 members and it produces seriously distorted results.

    Just have a look at Spain’s last election result and compare the seats won and vote share by United Left (IU) to the Basque Nationalists (PNV) and you’ll see what I mean.

    http://www.electionresources.org/es/congress.php?election=2004

  • Tochais Síoraí

    Yup, that’s a bit of a discrepancy alright – how is it caused? Is there a demand in Spain to move to an Irish type system?