DUP should submit new MLAs to the voters

In response to their election shock, the DUP’s double quick moves to ease themselves gently out of double jobbery ( but with the dynasties so far intact), are undemocratic. The Assembly rule allowing co-option rather than requiring a by-election if a seat is vacated, was created to avoid disturbing the party balance during the formative phase of the Assembly, when the loss of an MLA or two might have unraveled the whole deal. Far better these days if the DUP had had the guts to keep the double mandate for another year and, under a clean slate, for Assembly by elections for replacement MLAs to be held on the same day as the Westminster general election. A good principle of democracy is that politicians should be accountable for their mistakes to the voters. I’m subject to correction here, but I assume co-option also applies when the SDLP’s Margaret Ritchie gives up her council seat. The parties shouldn’t have it so easy. This smacks of the bad old days of the Stormont parliament, when many seats were often left uncontested and politics vegetated in semi-corrupt complacency. Has anybody got steamed up about this yet? I haven’t noticed. The DUP have got away with it this time. Let this be an end of it and let primary legislation be moved at Westminster after the election to introduce democratic norms – and while they’re at it, a smaller Assembly. That would set the calculators whizzing, to work out party gains and losses. BTW, I see the pressure mounting on Ian Og over his refusal to disclose the source of his claim that prison documents connected with the murder of Billy Wright had been destroyed. He contends that politicians should be recognised as being on a par with journalists, doctors and ministers of religion in claiming confidentiality. But he would, I suspect, (though I’m subject to correction here too) have been exempt from court action if he had spoken under privilege in the Assembly, even though the Assembly has no jurisdiction yet in this area – unlike Suzanne Breen who of course enjoys no such privilege. No doubt he sees a parallel with her case . Not that the normal recognition of journalist confidentiality adds up to anything like immunity, as the Breen case shows. Is Mr Paisley as sure of the accuracy of his claims as Ms Breen is of hers? And why can’t we be told whether nearly 6000 documents were destroyed or not? It seems a high number to go missing without trace.

  • Reader

    How much sense does a by-election make in a multi-seat constituency? Depending on the make up of the constituency it either amounts to an expensive co-option or to an expensive sacrifice of the seat

  • loki

    Unless everyone on council agrees Margaret Ritchie’s seat will be up for grabs in a bye-election.
    DUP isn’t really noted for its democracy is it? The previous system involved a list of substitutes for MLAs and replacements came from that list.
    However, Robbo was quite happy to see us move to the very undemocratic European Parliament method of the group/ Party leader making the decision of who replaces whom. Natch

  • BonarLaw

    Brian

    By-elections via STV in a multi-member seat?

    “A good principle of democracy is that politicians should be accountable for their mistakes to the voters.”

    Hear, hear but how much of this accountability is there in our opposition-less mandatory coalition?

  • Silverline

    It seems when the DUP decide to end double jobing your still not happy and then you turn your attention to the fact they should not end it unless they have an election, sounds like double standards from the blogers.

  • Mark McGregor

    Fuuny, I’d been speaking to Mick about Margaret Ritchie’s Council seat. Normally you would expect a challenge as the UUP and DUP sit on over 30% of the vote each but I can’t see the DUP wanting to face another contest so it may be down to the UUP to make the call.

  • aquifer

    Emotionally people may like to believe they have a named individual looking after their interests, preferring to ignore expenses and lobbying scandals, but real politics are about parties so lets have the party chose their list and the party pay the price in votes.

  • loki

    Furhter thought- how many credible ( seeing as that’s a new buzzword)candidates do the DUPes actually have? They will have to put the proverbial donkey with a rosette up fairly soon

  • Brian Walker

    Reader asks: “How much sense does a by-election make in a multi-seat constituency?” Good question. First, there is a principle of election it would be good to uphold, when the vacancy is created not through illness etc., by a change in political strategy as in this case. Second, it would probably be best to hold by-elections under Alternative Vote, whereby you vote 1,2,3 etc and the candidate to score 50% + wins. BonarLaw, accountability is limited but not non-existent. They hang together, blocking, gaining, losing, until the voters chose which is the least worst. Differential turn-out suggest the voters pay attention.

  • Conquistador

    Was the substitutes list used to replace Burnside by Kinahan? Or did the nominating officer of the UUP just choose the person who happened to be at the top of Burnside’s list?

    I suppose it all boils down to the question of whether we vote for a person or a party in an election. A by-election would make sense in the latter but not (as much) in the former.

    With STV however I would think that we are voting for people rather than parties.

  • Conquistador

    it would probably be best to hold by-elections under Alternative Vote, whereby you vote 1,2,3 etc and the candidate to score 50% + wins.

    That’s what they do use in council or dial by-elections when the system is STV.
    STV doesn’t really exist when fighting for one seat

  • Comrade Stalin

    That’s what they do use in council or dial by-elections when the system is STV.
    STV doesn’t really exist when fighting for one seat

    STV most certainly does exist when fighting for one seat; as far as I am aware the count proceeds and the candidates are eliminated through to the end.

    It’s PR which does not exist, so a by-election in a seat with a strong presence of one party proportionately reflected in the number of seats held within the constituency, it’s that party who will get in with a disproportionate extra seat.

  • Conquistador

    Well AV is described “STV for one seat”.

    The quota for election in STV is 1 + the (no of votes cast)/ (total no of seats available)

    In percentage terms for 1 seat thats 1 + 100/(1+1) = 50%+1 (ie same as alternative vote)

    STV most certainly does exist when fighting for one seat; as far as I am aware the count proceeds and the candidates are eliminated through to the end.

    No. In the Dublin South by-election a few days ago noone needed to be eliminated as the Fine Gael candidate already had exceeded 50%+1 and was declared elected after one count.

    It’s PR which does not exist [for one seat]

    STV is by nature PR. PR cannot exist in elections for one seat. Thus my reasoning is STV doesn’t truly exist in one seat elections. (It is AV)

  • pete whitcroft

    Let them shuffle and see if they can cope .
    Peter will pull the strings and we’ll see how good he is.
    Apart from Arlene, Sammy, Jeffrey and Gregory the rest will do as bid.
    So they’ll have to decide on how they see they’re future, devolutionists v integrationists.

  • cynic

    Loki

    Have you not noticed that they have already been putting up the proverbial donkey with a rosette? Been doing it for some time!

  • ecthelion

    go easy on sammy there cynic

  • fred

    For duck’s sake Brian. Proof if proof be needed that it’s not possible to keep all of the people happy any of the time.

    Double-jobbing has to go, that’s what the public, rightly, want. This is the way to do it written into the rules of the assembly, but still it’s wrong.

  • Danny O’Connor

    Brian, When I stood for election I could nominate up to 5 substitutes,who could have taken my place.

    Does anybody know if all those DUP resignation letters with the date missing are still extant.

    Technically it would be a substitution ,because, as stated earlier in the thread ,a co-option requires consensus.

  • snaz

    Even though the law was changed to allow direct nomination from
    Party leaders the UUP officer team (including leader) took the
    Collective view that having asked all candidates to submit
    Substitute lists to their Associations and the leader for
    Ratification that in this instance the list should be used.

    Danny Kinnehan was number 1 on the list.

    He will be an extremly capable and hard working MLA who is
    A passionate supporter of the Union and of a shared future in
    N.I.

    Unfortunately he is coming to Stormont at a time when
    80 percent of the business is through private members bills
    As opposed to the Executive and this is reducing our regional
    Government chamber to little more than a debating chamber.

    This in turn is playing into the hands of the growing minority,
    Particularly within Unionism, who wish to go back to
    Direct Rule.

    I am not one of them but unless DUP/SF get their collective
    Act together, properly work with all their Executive colleagues to
    Find mutually beneficial solutions to the issues that face us.

    Mutual respect rather than mutual veto.

  • The real deal

    That pathetic bigot Walker never stops. He didn’t utter one word when Reg Empey replaced David Burnside in South Antrim but believes that the DUP replacements should face by-elections. What does that say about Mr Walker. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised he spent too much time in the BBC.
    What is everyone going on about double jobbing for? Who gave these people double jobs? The electorate!