The future is…. Fianna Fáil?

Colm-Keaveney-2-appHere’s a link to an op ed Shaun Bowler and I published in today’s Irish Times that makes use of the 2011 Irish National Election Study (INES) to examine the potential for a new political party in Ireland. The bottom line is that, based at least on this rich source of data, the potential is not great. The group of voters showing greatest inclination for change are those based at the centre who traditionally support Fianna Fáil. Plus ça change…?

A political system friendly to independents but not to new parties

jfoley11aEvery day there is some opinion piece or other speculating about the possibility of a new political party emerging in Ireland. Journalistic eyes are peeled, watching every movement, signal or nuance from the likes of Lucinda Creighton, Michael McDowell, or any other obvious contenders seen as most likely to lead the way in establishing a new party. But how our political system is set up makes life very difficult for ambitious individuals aspiring to establish a new party. By contrast, it’s very easy for ambitious individuals wanting to run for office as independents. Continue reading

Where’s Ireland’s party political earthquake now?

The last election was seen at the time as an electoral earthquake. In the midst of the worst economic crisis in our history it was to be expected that the voters would be gunning for the government of the day. The devastation of Fianna Fáil (losing three-quarters of their seats) and the disappearance of the Greens (losing all of theirs) certainly seemed of earthquake proportions, as were the historically high levels of electoral volatility – one of the highest ever recorded in any democracy (see here). It was said at the time that politics would never be the same again: moulds had been broken; party allegiances had been blown away; Fianna Fáil were judged to be in their death throes never to return again. Continue reading

Professional politicians and political reform. (Matt Wall)

A couple of interesting stories in the Irish media today caused me to re-consider the notion that political reform should be the exclusive domain of elected politicians. With their electoral mandates, experience of the day-to-day functioning of political institutions and (in Ireland, at least) their exclusive right to initiate constitutional change, our professional politicians certainly have more claim than most other social groups or organisations to take the lead on this issue.

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Can Martin remake Fianna Fáil into a democratic party?

Guest post by R.K. Carty (posted by David Farrell, March 13, 2012)

March 3, 2012 may mark the second most important date in Fianna Fáil history. On the 16th of May 1926, De Valera, Lemass and their gang took a deliberate decision to create a new organization themselves. Now, eighty-six years later, Martin and Dorgan have chosen to act as midwives to a party seeking to be reborn. Continue reading

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

What is a Citizens’ Assembly?

Posted by Elaine Byrne

The editors of this website, Elaine Byrne, David Farrell, Eoin O’Malley, Jane Suiter and Matt Wall, published an opinion piece in the Irish Times today arguing that the path to rebuilding a Republic should start with a citizens’ assembly. So what is it?

A Citizens’ Assembly is a means of citizens recapturing trust in their political process by taking ownership of the decision making process. It is an experiment that has had terrific results in many parts of the world. The strengths and shortcomings of this deliberative process were discussed on this site here and the recent Icelandic case here. Prof Ken Carty gave a recent presentationin Trinity outlining a practical example of a citizens’ assembly in action.

It involves rational, reasoned discussion with a cross- section of an entire population and uses various methods of inquiry such as directly questioning experts. It is not adversarial, although disagreement is inevitable and is valued, not stifled. A Citizens’ Assembly values creativity and tends to build consensus rather than creating winning and losing sides – but there is no requirement of unanimity. Deliberative processes are not meant to replace representative or direct democracy, but to enhance and support it.

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Party finance and Political Representation

Ken McDonagh 13 April 2011

Vincent Browne has a new bugbear – party finance. In today’s Irish Times he writes: ‘The only reason anyone would give money to a political party is because they expect to get something in return’
He goes on to link the problem of private funding for political parties to the disproportionate representation of the views of the very wealthy, (to read the full article click here) however his proposed solution is neither fair nor practical.
This is due to the fact that Vincent has misidentified the problem, the transactional nature of political support is not the core of the issue – namely the willingness to donate in order to have your view represented, essentially this is the same logic as voting – the problem is the relative difference in power and influence between the very wealthy and the ordinary citizens produced by the ability of the former to use their substantial financial resources to influence policy makers. Continue reading

What next for Labour and the Irish party system?

Eoin O’Malley (28 February, 2011)

Although the election was a seismic event in the redevelopment of the Irish party system, the decisions made in the next week as to the structure of the government will have a greater long term impact. The decision Labour has to take as to whether to go into government or not seems to have already been taken if we consider the noises made by senior Labour members at the weekend. But if the party were considering more than getting bums on seats in ministerial mercs (or the share of a Prius) then it should pause for thought. Continue reading