“No single party could then hold others to ransom”

A short discussion on the Politics Show with Mark Devenport focusing on the detail of Peter Robinson’s contentious speech, and what it could mean for the devolution of justice powers.

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  • michael

    I’ve floated this before, but…

    Maybe this could win support if it was combined with a separately elected OFMDFM by weighted majority. The executive could then be chosen by said office from within, or without the assembly. If its the former, said MLA would be required to vacate their seat (which would then be filled by co-option).

    The benefit is that the executive would be required to be moderate in order to win popular support and the assembly would be freer to work ‘across the floor’.

    Im thinking along the lines of how the US president and the Senate relationship works.

    Just a thought!

  • steve white

    how about two parties holding everyone else to ransom

  • Coll Ciotach

    I thought the whole point was to ensure that either “side” had a veto on the other thereby forcing collaboration

  • otto

    If the aim is to be rid of designation why not start with a 75% weighted majority and see how that goes? SF would retain their veto as their seats exceed 25% (27). That would actually give them more control as they need the assistance of another party for a petition of concern anyway (it needs 30 MLA’s and they’ve only 28).

    One other change that would reward collaboration would be the pooling of seats for the purposes of the D’hondt selection. The SDLP are currently claiming they’re next in line for a seat (and that they’re therefore entitled to the Justice Ministry) but this only works if United Community are refused permission to pool their nine.

    Use inter-party coalitions as a way to boost D’hondt rankings and you have another, (perhaps minor but it’s there anyway), opportunity for co-operation.

  • Comrade Stalin

    The SDLP claims are, of course, bollocks. The Justice Ministry is likely to be one of the most important roles in the Executive and, as such, neither the DUP nor SF will tolerate it being selected under d’Hondt on the mutual exclusion principle – each does not want the other to take it.

    This stupid mess is all the SDLP’s fault. If they had sided with Alliance and supported a weighted majority vote in 1998, we would not be in this mess.

    The way things are going at the moment, the executive is in a perilous position and on the verge of collapse anyway. I can’t see policing and justice powers being sorted out this side of Christmas. I’ve also heard it pointed out that a collapse, followed by an assembly election, would be pretty bad for everyone since the TUV are significantly more likely to win assembly seats than they are Westminster seats, and the momentum from a victorious assembly election could propel them into a Westminster victory they might not otherwise score.

  • otto

    Comrade, I can’t help feeling Alliance’s position on this is a bit unfinished. Alliance seem to have a problem with d’hondt as much as designation but expecting stable coalitions to be formed which consistently achieve 65% majorities seems as wishful a bit of thinking as any of the Tory stuff Sammy Morse has been exercised about elsewhere.

    A realistic evolution of the deal would be to appoint the FM + 11 others (including Justice) by d’hondt, allow the pooling I’ve talked about and bring in 75% majority voting. At least you’d know where you were. You’d need 28 seats for negative control and 9 for a ministry (which you could always turn down or resign from if you didn’t like the legislation).

  • Henry94

    The logic of a weighted majority system would be to have only one party representing each community. They would either merge or one would wipe out the other. That would being us back to square one with less diversity. The UUP and the SDLP as the vulnerable parties would be crazy to support it.

  • Comrade Stalin


    d’Hondt and designation are two sides of the same coin. Neither would be necessary with a weighted majority voting system where the makeup (and indeed, size of) executive would be proposed to the assembly and then voted on.

    No, I’m not arguing that weighted majority would lead to an inherently stable coalition, that would be silly. But it would eliminate the problem that we have now which is not really a coalition but a list of people who are required to be in the same room at certain times. Horse trading between parties in a voluntary coalition is bread and butter politics. Under d’Hondt there is no motivation to do any of this; the executive ministers are essentially sealed off from accountability and the electorate.

    It is not the idea which is unrealistic, just the realpolitik, as neither the SDLP nor SF are going to support removing it – so this is all academic.

    The logic of a weighted majority system would be to have only one party representing each community.

    Who says ? There are going to be nationalist and unionist blocs for the foreseeable, but there’s nothing to say they need to merge together.

    The UUP and the SDLP as the vulnerable parties would be crazy to support it.

    Party before country ?

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    “and what it could mean for the devolution of justice powers”?

    As Mark suggests – feck all.

    Robbo hints there is a link, Marty tells him he is as mad as a brush and now the DUP say there is no link. Pre-season DUP bluster.

  • Quagmire

    Mandatory coalition/Power sharing is here ad infinitum folks. Nationalists will never be subjected to unionist mis-rule again, no matter how Robbo et al care to dress it up. I’m afraid Unionism is joined at the hip with Nationalism/Republicanism forever and ever Amen as long as the northern state exists. The only way to get rid of it is to remove the border and for all stake holders on this Island to sit down with each other and thrash out a new all encompassing democracy,state and constitution etc etc.