The interrogation of Prof David Farrell

Prof David Farrell gave a compelling lecture this week on electoral reform to the Trinity Senior Sophister class studying Comparative Political Reform.  The class have read and debated the various themes –

Electoral reform has become a lightning rod issue for reformists in many different countries. But is it the wrong answer to the wrong question? Is the case for electoral reform over-stated? What does the process of electoral reform tell us about the possibility of achieving wider reforms?

Over to the students…

Return to O’Rourke: Reform of the Seanad

Posted by Séin Ó Muineacháin

The brief flurry of debate caused last year by Enda Kenny’s claim that, if elected Taoiseach, he would put it to the people that Seanad Éireann should be abolished was short-lived, but interesting nonetheless. The modern incarnation of the Seanad (in spite of the high esteem in which its predecessor is held) is increasingly seen as one of the failures of the constitutional architecture set up by Bunreacht na hÉireann in 1937.

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Problems with Transparency International corruption perception index

Posted by Elaine Byrne

Transparency International published its annual corruption perception index (CPI) this week. As this map shows, Ireland ranks very favourably in comparative terms. Since 1995 Ireland has more or less ranked in the top twenty least corrupt countries in the world.

The CPI has been credited widely with putting the issue of corruption on the global policy agenda and raising international awareness about the phenomenon. Nonetheless, the CPI has been the focus of much criticism regarding its methodology (Arndt and Oman 2006; Galtung 2006).

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Citizens’ Assembly – The case of Germany

Posted by Elaine Byrne

Derek Scally in today’s Irish Times on ‘Ireland needs a national forum for cogent debate.’

In particular he writes about:

“Three years on, the country is crying out for meaningful public debate beyond media bun fights and political soundbites. This debate needs a home, a place where civil society and politics meet. We have our highly regarded summer schools, but what about the rest of the year? We had a National Forum on Europe, why not one on Ireland? Whether fixed institution or roadshow, it must be open to all and should be funded by a public-private model.

Such a forum will only come to life when people demand it and see it for what it is: a must-have for national cohesion, something we can no longer afford to do without.”

Is this a Citizens’ Assembly by another name as outlined by Prof Ken Carty in Trinity last week?

If Not Now, When? Why we need parliamentary reform.

Posted by Matt Wall.

Gay Mitchell’s article in this morning’s Irish Times again raises the issue of Oireachtas reform. While the text of the article focuses on the development of the office of the Comptroller and Auditor General, Mitchell lays out 7 steps that he feels would improve parliamentary oversight writ large. I would love to see peoples’ comments on these, but I would like to focus here on the broader topic of parliamentary reform. Because, let’s face it, there is little evidence at this point that any serious reforms are even being considered.

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Latest Red C Poll – Fianna Fail down to just 32 seats?

Adrian Kavanagh 23 September 2010

Latest Red C Poll figures, to be published in tomorrow’s (24 October) Sunday Business Post – Fianna Fail 18% (down 6%), Fine Gael 32% (up 1%), LAB 27% (up 4%), Green Party 4% (up 1%), Sinn Fein 9% (down 1%), Independents/Other small parties 10% (up 2%)

On these figures, my constituency level analysis estimmates the party’s seat allocations as follows – FF 32, FG 64, LAB 50, GP 0, SF 7, OTH 13 Continue reading

Election of a Constitutional Assembly in Iceland 2010

Posted by David Farrell (written by James Gilmour)

Following the financial crisis, demonstrations and riots outside the Parliament (Althingi), early elections in April 2009, and a significant change of government, the Icelandic Parliament voted on 16 June 2010 to set up a directly elected Constitutional Assembly “for the purpose of reviewing the Constitution of the Republic”. (Iceland has a written Constitution.)

The Constitutional Assembly has a very broad remit and is specifically tasked to address the following: Continue reading

Here’s hoping FG proposals will include open government

A new Fine Gael policy document appears to be in the pipeline according to The Irish Times. It is said to include a slimmed-down civil service, a new cabinet minister for public sector reform and the abolition of the HSE “in its current form”. Under Fine Gael proposals, all Departments and agencies would openly compete for resources on an annual basis and publish the details of their bids. The use of cost benefit analysis would be dramatically widened to evaluate how money had been spent. Continue reading

An election more powerful than consensus?

Many people seem to believe that a cross party consensus on a four-year economic plan is a good thing. While agreement  that the budget needs to brought back towards balance is positive, demanding  agreement on the policies necessary to get there is nonsense. What we need is an election and a government that has a mandate to deliver a budget and a four-year plan that will bring the economy back from the abyss. Continue reading