The more recent referendums on Seanad abolition and the Court of Appeal should give political parties – and particularly their back room strategists – some cause to reflect on how referendums are run in this country. Ireland is third to Switzerland and Italy in terms of the number of referendums held, and yet how we administer referendums and how the parties fight them are still in the Stone Age. With the promise of more referendums to come, this is a problem that needs urgent attention. Continue reading
By Vanessa Liston (CiviQ.eu)
Opinion polls are built into the fabric of our political system. We look to them as a fountain of knowledge on people’s minds, as we search for clues and cues in meandering a fractious course to the polling booth. Yet, given the outcome of the Seanad referendum, that quite dramatically violated most poll predictions, it should be of concern that there are few alternatives to understanding public opinion in such significant decision-making events.
It’s all too easy after any election, no matter how slight the margin of victory, by however small a portion of the electorate, to declare that the result represents a mandate of some sort. When this isn’t merely spin, it’s often the product of wishful thinking, the hope that some clear intention is waiting for us to discover and act on. Indeed, both the winners and losers might desire this clarity so that each can move on with their lives. Continue reading
Post by Kevin Cunningham
PhD Candidate in Political Science at Trinity College Dublin
The Millward Brown/Independent poll conducted between the 13th and 25th of September suggested a 64 per cent to 36 per cent margin in favour of abolition. The Red C/Sunday Business Post poll conducted between the 9th and 11th of September indicated a 59% to 41% margin. The night before the election, Paddy Power offered 1/10 on a Yes vote compared to a 5 to 1 for a No vote.
The error in these polls was a consequence of insufficiently accounting for the likelihood of an individual to turn out. Continue reading
Post by Richard Humphreys SC
In order to offer a ‘workable’ reform that they claim could be on the statute books by Christmas the Quinn/ Zapponne Seanad Reform Bill makes a lot of compromises. Due to the constitutional limitations on what can and cannot be changed by an ordinary bill, the Zappone/Quinn Bill leaves in place a number of key features of the current system that are elitist or irrelevant. Continue reading
Interested in how we can make our parliament fit for purpose? This public discussion on Dáil reform is open to anyone who thinks our Dáil can do more for democracy.
The debate in the run up to the Seanad referendum has not provided sufficient space for debate on wider reform of our parliamentary structures. Continue reading
Dr Seán Patrick Donlan, School of Law, University of Limerick
Predictably if depressingly, the debates around the Government referendum on the abolition of the Seanad have proven to be as ideological as intellectual, often more sophomoric than substantive. The vote honours a political promise initially made by parties and personalities now on both sides of the issue. Most of the membership of Fine Gael and the Labour Party, allied in this instance with strange bed-fellows Sinn Féin and the Socialist Party, want a YES vote. Fianna Fáil, who led coalition governments for the fourteen or so years before the debacle of the last general election only two years ago, are now campaigning for a NO result. Continue reading
Fine Gael launched its campaign to abolish the Seanad last week and this week, we finally got the date for the referendum. Political reform is back in the headlines and set to take up a reasonable chunk of the airtime during silly season. Seanad abolition is one of the central planks of the Government’s reform agenda. Whatever your views on the Seanad itself, this campaign reminds us that we are engaged in the most significant Continue reading
And so they’re off! The Fine Gael party today launched their referendum campaign to abolish the Seanad, with Richard Bruton in the driving seat as director of elections for the party and Regina Doherty as his deputy.
Having brought this issue to a head, the onus is now firmly on the government, and particularly on Fine Gael (given that we all know who really is responsible for this referendum question) to produce a coherent argument as to why the Seanad should be abolished. Up until now the Taoiseach’s line has been – wrongly – that abolition of the Seanad would be a major piece of political reform. To his credit, in his press statement today Richard Bruton steers clear from that silly notion. Continue reading