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.
Overall, some 61% of people either agreed or strongly agreed that we need a new constitution with just 23% disagreeing or strongly disagreeing.
A similar majority of some 75% of people agreed that we need to develop more participatory forms of democracy so that people can have greater participation in political decision making between elections. Only 12% of people disagreed with this proposal. At the same time some 67% of people felt that there should be a greater role for the people in policy making.Of these some 60% agreed or strongly agreed that the people’s views should be taken into account through a process such as a citizen assembly.
In terms of increasing representation some 59% supported increasing the involvement of youth in politics with only 8% disagreeing. Some 67% support increasing the involvement of women in politics with only 9% disagreeing. However, this did not translate into support for gender quotas, the most widely advised remedy. Here opinion was evenly divided with 39% agreeing or strongly agreeing that quotas should be introduced and 38% disagreeing or strongly disagreeing. There was less support for the proposition that there should be incentives for political parties to select candidates from minority groups with only 38% support.
One proposal which received a very favourable response was to develop a system where a sufficient number of citizens could petition the Oireachtas to debate and if agreed introduce new legislation with 72% support and only 12% disagreeing.
Respondents also wanted changes in the role of TDs. There was huge support for the idea that TDs should be given more power to hold the government to account with some 87% of respondents agreeing or strongly agreeing with this idea. However, support was more evenly divided for the proposal that ministers should not be elected representatives of constituencies or should resign their Dáil seats on appointment. Here some 47% of people agreed or strongly agreed while some 33% disagreed or strongly disagreed. Somewhat surprisingly support for abolishing the Senate was lacklustre with 41% of people supporting abolishing the Senate with 42% disagreeing.
In terms of electoral reform there was no support for the notion of introducing single seat constituencies as in the UK with 55% disagreeing or sternly disagreeing with the idea. There was a little more support for introducing a list based ballot as in many European countries with 50% agreeing or strongly agreeing and some 32% disagreeing or strongly disagreeing.
Outside of political reform one of the largest areas of agreement was in negotiating with the bondholders with some 76% agreeing or strongly agreeing that this should be a priority for the government.