“It’s all a bit hasty and half-cock…”

The Guardian‘s Michael White attempts to get to grips with the various parties’ sudden positioning on the need for political reform ahead of the Irish general election.

Why are all the parties thrashing around for reform? You must have guessed. Because after 20 years of purring happily as the Celtic Tiger economy, the Republic of Ireland has suffered a double smash since the crash of 2007, its cronyist politics – obsessed with permanent pork-barrel electioneering – widely blamed for not challenging the banking and corporate sector’s unsustainable dash for growth on borrowed money, now having to be paid back.

So it’s a political and economic crisis – moral, too, if you count the shockwaves of the Catholic church’s cover-up of systemic child abuse in Ireland. Of course, few western countries, including Britain, are not touched by one, two or all of those scandals. But Ireland is small, and I think the shock here has been greater and the options fewer.

Most of the ideas floated above have been around for ages. FG will lead the next government, but it will be busy with trying to manage the debt problem.

Few voters expect too much political reform. Thus FF’s Micheál Martin wants single-seat constituencies because – he says now that he’s long thought this – he’s noticed too much point-scoring, not only between parties but within them. STV requires colleagues to fight for popularity to get more first preference votes.

It’s all a bit hasty and half-cock, but it’s useful to be reminded that other countries have problems too, similar as well as different from our own.

Read the whole thing.

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  • Greenflag

    ‘widely blamed for not challenging the banking and corporate sector’s unsustainable dash for growth on borrowed money’

    Ireland was not alone in not challenging the perceived all knowing wisdom of the bankers either Irish , British , German or Wall St . Even now there is a deafening silence coming from Washington and London re the eh ‘forgotten ‘ matter of the .banks that were too big to fail two years ago now being bigger than ever and obviously no longer a problem ?

    But I’ll agree with Micheal White about ‘political reform ‘ as now being ‘all a bit hasty and half -cock particularly in the middle of an election . What needs to happen is an all party ‘reform committee ‘ being established with a timeline for debate and recommendations which would be put to a referendum in a couple of years so that it could be enacted for the next election . The committee should be chaired by ‘neutrals ‘ and there needs to be an openness for contributions from all sections of society and even from outside the State in terms of what is best practically for Irish conditions . . We should look at the Scandinavian democracies and some of the other European countries to see how an electoral system can encourage higher rates of voter turnout and ‘better ‘ politicians .

    In the middle of a housefire is probably not the best time to discuss the replacement furniture ;)?

  • A cutting analysis with a lot of truth, hard to read from an Irish perspective

  • aquifer

    The constituency link is actually anti-proportional when it comes to social and economic issues. The idea of multiple constituencies and proportional top-ups is probably sound, and we should stop pretending that we have ‘our person’ in parliament and give the parties the say-so in a lot of nominations, and more funding.

    Yes give them taxpayers money if you want them to work for you.

  • aquifer

    That should read multiple overlapping constituencies. i.e. You should be allowed to vote in larger or smaller constituencies according to preference. If you want pork vote for pork, if not, vote for someone with a take on the big issues.

  • Reform is not change but only new wine in old bottles.

  • slappymcgroundout

    The plan to not have minister reps is sound (as opposed to wacky). Your cabinet ministers (our secretaries) should not be elected but appointed by the executive with the advice and consent of the legislature (which means that you’d a true executive head). Those who both make the law and execute the law have an inherent conflict of interest. Lastly and by the way, the set up is guaranteed to mean that when things go all haywire, things will well and truly go haywire. And because the scheme exhibits nothing to indicate that the designer concerned self with notion of the evil of concentration of power (party in power controls legislative branch and what passes for a poor imitation of an executive branch). Almost forgot, but a scheme of proportional representation also makes it hard to exclude the Nazis. Or the settlers party in Israel. No sound reason that I can why one would want a scheme that plays to the fringes of the society. In terms of system analysis that would be PR having a lower threshhold for noise rejection than first past the post.