MEP replacement mechanism “charter for abuse”

According to the BBC report, the Northern Ireland Office is “pressing ahead with a system for replacing MEPs who fail to serve their full term.”

The new system would mean that, instead of a by-election, a party would choose a replacement for an MEP who resigned or died while in office. When consulted the Electoral Commission had suggested an alternative system.

It wanted a list system similar to other regions whereby voters should have the opportunity to view a list of possible substitutes before polling day. The commission made the suggestion as part of a consultation process – in which all but one political party broadly supported the government’s plan.

Apart from Jim Allister’s, in this case, not unreasonable complaint that it’s a “charter for abuse” by political parties, and despite what they might think the electoral mandate does not belong to the parties, but doesn’t it also assume that no independent MEP will ever be elected in Northern Ireland? That assumption might seem a reasonable conclusion, but it is not reasonable to create an electoral mechanism that relies on that assumption. Adds BBC NI political correspondent Martina Purdy notes, “Secretary of State Shaun Woodward declined to be interviewed on the issue.”