Voter turnout data make many of our comparisons invalid

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It was much commented that turnout in yesterday’s Scottish referendum was very high (at 85%), and some also reported that there had been a surge in voter registrations, with as many as 97% of eligible voters registered to vote. Of course if 97% of eligible voters registered then turnout wasn’t actually 85%, but 82.5% (85*.97 – still pretty impressive). In most countries and many cross-country studies we take the turnout as the number of voters/ number of registered voters. Continue reading

We were away….we’re back!

Many of you have noticed that politicalreform.ie has been down since July. I’d like to say that it was in preparation of a major relaunch, but it wasn’t. It was a failure of too many people involved in running the site, and none of us taking responsibility. A catalogue of unpaid bills, misunderstandings and amateurism meant it took longer than it should have to get back up and running. We’re back now!

Good news for Fine Gael and Sinn Fein: Constituency-level analysis of the Sunday Business Post-Red C poll (14th September 2014)

Originally posted on Irish Elections: Geography, Facts and Analyses:

Adrian Kavanagh, 13th September 2014 (still being updated!)

The latest in the series of Red C polls has brought good news especially for Fine Gael and Sinn Fein. While Labour sees a one percentage point increase in the party’s poll levels, this is well off the levels of increase observed in last months’ Sunday Times-Behaviour & Attitudes poll. There is a notable fall in support levels for the Independents and Others grouping, while Fianna Fail support levels remain unchanged at a disappointing 18% level although that party seems to perform better in actual electoral contests than they have been in opinion polls. The latest Sunday Business Post-Red C poll estimates party support levels as follows (and relative to the previous Sunday Business Post-Red C poll ): Fine Gael 28% (up 3%), Sinn Fein 23% (up 1%), Fianna Fail 18% (NC), Labour Party 8% (up 1%), Independents, Green Party and Others 23% (down 5%). My…

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Turnout isn’t even a symptom, so let’s stop the hand wringing

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We’re all worried about the decline in turnout, aren’t we? Politicians, academics and other worthies march up to Glenties every year to worry about our failing politics, and to self-flagellate about our failure to reform it.

And it’s not just us we’re worried about this year. With the results of the 2014 European elections we worry that other parts of Europe have gone bad. They’ve elected nationalists! Let’s forget that the vote for the racist nationalists, who I assume are the ones we don’t like, has gone down in many countries. Something must be done!

The standard analysis is that the Front National in France and Britain’s UKIP were elected because so many good people didn’t bother to vote. It’s probably true that low turnout inflates support for anti-EU parties. It is also likely that in general elections in these countries, when more people vote.

But do we really need to solve the ‘problem’ of low turnout? Continue reading

Reforming the Oireachtas as an Oversight and Accountability Mechanism for Human Rights

CommitteeRoom_4_800Post by Kirsten Roberts*

In democracies, parliaments are crucial in balancing the use of power by the executive and overseeing the functioning of the State. In Ireland this balance is off – with the executive and civil service seemingly unwilling to cede any real control to oversight or accountability mechanisms. While the Oireachtas has been prominent as perhaps the only body able to publicly consider many of the difficult issues that have arisen this year – from whistleblowers to the charities sector – its role as an oversight mechanism is not being fully realised. Continue reading

Independents take top spot in Irish Polling Indicator

Post by Tom Louwerse (Trinity College, Dublin)

IPI_Longitudinal

Independents and smaller parties have seen their electoral support increased over the last two months. They now top the Irish Polling Indicator, which combines all national election polls in to one estimate of party support. Independents now score between 25.7% and 31%, followed by Sinn Féin at 21.5-25.7% and Fine Gael at 20.1%-24.2%. The largest government party has been on a downward slope in the polls since mid-February, while Continue reading

The Quiet Protest Vote – Intra-party Councillor Replacement in #le14

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Post by Dr. Michael Courtney, TCD

The big stories of this year’s local elections are the collapse of the Labour party vote and the ongoing rise of Sinn Féin. To a large degree, the surge in Sinn Féin’s percentage of the vote and number of councillors is attributed to a protest vote. The narrative goes that those who voted for Fine Gael and Labour in the 2009 Locals and the 2011 General Election are punishing these parties for continuing the programme of austerity and the breaking of several election promises. The voters’ strategy is interpreted to be; to vote for other parties in the local elections to demonstrate their unhappiness with the government’s performance. This type of voting behaviour in ‘second-order’ elections is usually evident in good economic times and bad. Continue reading