How should we rewrite our constitution?

Looking on from abroad for most of the campaign, I was amazed at some of the proposals for reform that emerged. Both of the government parties have posted documents detailing these promises on their websites. In my opinion, Labour had one of the most radical political reform policy platforms of the campaign. The key plank of that platform was laid out in: ‘Labour’s Plan for a New Constitution’ which was issued on Feb 18th, 2011.

It was made very clear that this was a key policy priority for the Labour Party:

‘‘ ‘A vote for Labour is a vote for a Constitutional Convention. I urge you to vote Labour to seize this opportunity to design tomorrow’s Republic’.

Eamon Gilmore TD

Leader, the Labour Party”

Continue reading

Reforms are driven by optics

The Dáil debated possible new Dáil reforms yesterday. The reforms introduced by the Chief Whip Paul Kehoe are to include:

The introduction of Topical Issue Debates to replace the current Adjournment Debates
Extra Dáil sitting days – on the first Friday of every month – to provide time for TDs to introduce their own Bills
Providing for Leaders Questions to be taken by the Tánaiste on Thursdays
A procedure to allow Dáil Deputies raise issues regarding replies to Parliamentary Questions
The Dáil commencing earlier on Tuesdays at 2pm
Reform of the Standing Order 32 procedures for raising urgent issues
Establishing a time limit for the Order of Business
Changes to Taoiseach’s PQs on Tuesdays and Wednesdays Continue reading

Analysis of Ispos-MRBI polls, July 2011 – good news for Fine Gael and Norris

Adrian Kavanagh, 20th and 21st July 2011

The Ispos-MRBI polls, published in the July 20th and July 21st editions of The Irish Times offers good news for Fine Gael and David Norris. My constituency level analysis suggest Fine Gael would win just enough seats to form a single party government based on these figures, while analysis of the presidential election poll figures suggests a win for Norris, who would be predicted to win the election, finishing over 90,000 votes ahead of Gay Mitchell on the final count. Continue reading

Ministers still have power to effect policy change

As ministers prepare to take what will surely seem a well-earned break, they’ll probably be feeling a bit sorry for themselves. The celebrity induced honeymoon hasn’t given way to an economic miracle and the likelihood is that when they come back they will be straight into a fight with Brendan Howlin for money. The argument has been made that the new government’s ministers are impotent to change policy because they have very little money and what money they have is ring-fenced or otherwise constrained by the EU/ IMF loan arrangement.

This is rubbish. Continue reading

Ireland is not the only country considering a smaller parliament

Post by David Farrell (July 14 2011)

Ireland is not alone in considering a reduction in the number of parliamentarians. In the UK the size of the House of Commons is to reduce from 650 to 600. In the Netherlands there is debate over possibly reducing their parliament by a third from 150 members to just 100. Similar debates are ongoing in Austria, Denmark, Hungary and Iceland. There may well be other cases.

Whether this is due to a backlash against the politicians in a moment of economic crisis or simply a realisation that parliaments needn’t be so large given modern communications is hard to tell. But it does show a very new pattern to the inexorable growth of parliaments that has characterised the trends for all postwar democracies. And in this at least Ireland is part of the new trend.

John Major’s political reform proposals

In a recent lecture to the Ditchley Foundation, former UK prime minister John Major calls for political reforms, especially the use of more experts in government and the role of politicians as a mediator between experts and the public. The details of his proposals are a bit unclear, but are discussed in a blog by Andrew Adonis on the Institute for Government website here.

Can Fianna Fáil Change to Survive?

Post by David Farrell (July 12, 2011)

It is not just political systems that need to be reformed from time to time, parties also need to go through a process of renewal if they’re to survive the trials and tribulations of electoral politics.  As reported in today’s Irish Times, Fianna Fáil’s parliamentary party met yesterday to have a full and frank discussion about its future and about how it might change and adapt in the light of its recent electoral defeat.  This is an entirely understandable move by the party leadership as it seeks to find a way back to electoral success in future elections. Continue reading