• Brian Walker

    A big issue surely is that the parties haven’t got a “mandate” to do much beyond defending their camps and dishing their internal rivals. Wouldn’t to be lovely if they could be pressed to agree on a meaningful minimum programme for government before the next election which is now one further year ahead?

    It’s too much hope for that they’d compete at the polls on care homes, education reforms and the like without strong pressure. Collectively though, it would be in their interest to do so – and that’s a big political point which is barely recognised.. So a measure of common agreement (maybe along some Platform for Change lines) would be worth going for. Individual parties might then want to differentiate on the details at the polls.

    Problem is, where would the pressure come from?

  • Ruarai

    There are basically no similarities between Congress and Stormont. Except one…

    To this point: “…all politicians and politician institutions are suffering from the same condition, a strong sense of being cut off from the electorate.”

    This is exactly the wrong way around. The problem with the US Congress, that is similar to (one of) Stormont, is that it is too connected and responsive to the local. In both Houses (Belfast and DC) the representatives pander to tiny local micro-elements, and in-do-doing the run from partnership and cooperation.

    Improvement depends on listening to the local yahoos less, and thinking about the whole collective more. Therein lays the compromises required to un-jam both House’s pathetic recent legislating records.

  • son of sam

    “Parties losing the capacity to act powerful in the broader public interest and for that public good”. When was the last time a political party did that? Ah yes— John Hume and the S D L P.Did the public reward them.I don’t think so! There seems little incentive in the current Stormont set-up to act in the common good.Suppose it depends on your interpretation of the “common good”.

  • Ruarai

    Son of Sam is right – Profiles in Courage in legislative chambers are an exception.

    The solutions must be structural: changing the incentives not looking for better characters.

    In NI that means reducing the representatives’ numbers and increasinly the power/responsibility of those that remain (so that the public is too afraid to disengage).