A topic that emerged rather unexpectedly from the We the Citizens event that I attended in June was the importance of civic education. At my table, the argument for focusing attention on this topic was that citizens need to be politically well-informed in order to understand the powers of political offices and the consequences of their political decisions.
By Jane Suiter
Political reform ran a poll here for a number of weeks, it has taken a little time to report the findings for which I apologise. We received some 485 responses to the poll with people from 16 to 65 responding from most counties across the country. These are of course not nationally representative but are probably representative of those that read this site. Some of the results make for interesting reading with unsurprisingly an appetite for political reform, some of it quite radical. Continue reading
The editors and contributors behind polticalreform.ie have teamed with a large volunteer team of project managers, web designers and others to produce ReformCard a measurement tool to rank each party based on the quality of their policies on political reform. We hope this will prove a critical instrument in informing the election 2011 debate. It provides the 25 proposals for political reform in Ireland which we believe provide the best possible combination to transform the political system and ensure it is fit for purpose in the 21st century. Continue reading
By Michael Gallagher
There has been some discussion as to whether, in the event of Brian Cowen’s deciding not to contest the forthcoming election, it would be constitutional for him to remain as Taoiseach, given that the constitution states (Art 28.7.1) that the Taoiseach must be a member of Dáil Éireann. There has been speculation that this could create a constitutional difficulty, given that the Taoiseach is nominated by the Dáil. Would we then be without a Taoiseach until the 31st Dáil meets? Continue reading
The Irish Times has an interesting series this week on where we should go from here. Some of the ideas so far are insightful and thought provoking. Joseph O’Connor points to the huge programme of political reform which is needed and argues for a bottom up approach that envisages change coming from the people inlcuding citizens, artists and sportpeople among others. He points to the affinities we owe to one another, as citizens of this “still beautiful place”. Maureen Gaffney
on the other hand while also recognising the need for reform appears to be envisaging a more top down approach with a hankering for visionary leadership. Whether that is on offer is a moot point but there is surely a possibiity that the current elites may agree to a bottom up approach if only to assuage the current absence of trust in all polticians and the political system.
There are different ways of involving the public in higher law making. Constitutions can be drafted by constituent assemblies or constitutional conventions directly elected for that purpose. Constitutional change can result from extraordinary public debates outside the formal representative arena, when a majority of the people back radical change. Alternatively, the people may simply approve a constitution through the referendum. A fourth option is a citizen assembly elected for the purpose of recommending constitutional change to the people. Whatever the outcome in Ireland constitutional change will involve some combination of these processes.
Icelandic political scientist Silja Bara Omarsdottir writes about waking up as a newly elected representative to the country’s new constitutional assembly here. The assembly is a direct result of the Pots and Pans Revolution which took place in Iceland after the banking crisis tanked the country’s economy just over two years ago. Should we think about doing something similar here?