Post by Vanessa Liston
The controversy over the Central Access Scheme (CAS) in Kilkenny city has raised some important issues about local democracy in Ireland. One of these concerns the link between elected representatives and citizens. On the one hand those who, for different reasons oppose the scheme, claim that democracy is dead. Councilors do not represent the voices of all the people and so the system has failed. On the other hand, supporters of the scheme state that a vote on the matter in Council has been carried on numerous occasions and passed with a significant majority. Therefore the voice of the people has been heard. Continue reading
Post by Dr Dawn Walsh, Institute for Conflict, Cooperation and Security (ICCS), The University of Birmingham.
While the summer of 2014 was marked by a surprisingly quiet ‘marching season’ the issue of parades remains a controversial one in Northern Ireland. The difficulties and disputes around Parades by the Loyal Orders, predominantly the Orange Order, can be seen as a cultural manifestation of a constitutional conflict, which has been managed but not resolved by the 1998 Good Friday Agreement. Migration patterns have resulted in a situation where a number of these parades now pass through or skirt nationalist areas if they follow traditional routes. This is unacceptable to the local residents who see them as sectarian and intimidating. However alterations from these traditional routes are equally unacceptable to marchers who view the parades as an integral part of their culture and re-routing as an infringement on their human rights. Continue reading
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
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!
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
Post 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