Elaine Byrne, University of New South Wales: 5 August 2013
Following from Dr Theresa Reidy’s excellent post on the need for a political reform “roadmap”, perhaps the political science community might once again engage in an updated version of the “reform scorecard” which was conducted prior to the 2011 general election.
The best roadmap right now is clarity.
On that occasion, Johnny Ryan and Joseph Curtin were responsible for providing the structure, formulation and presentation of the scorecard. The purpose of such an initiative in 2013 would be to highlight the reforms that have been introduced since the election, those which have yet to be implemented, suggestions for new reforms and shortcomings, if any, of existing reforms. This kind of peer reviewed process is regularly conducted by GRECO, IDEA, Global Integrity, TI and various EU bodies. Mark Carpenter (TCD) and I have contributed to the European Commission report on Irish governance which will be published in the Autumn.
A “reform scorecard” with singular emphasis on political reform would have the benefit of pointing to the (many) legislative reforms that are in the process of being implemented (It’s not all bad news – FOI, political funding, whistleblowing, lobbying and so forth). The process would also serve to focus attention on *what* reforms are deemed absent. The debate right now is very noisy. “What do we want?! POLITICAL REFORM! When do we want it? NOW!” Like apple pie, everyone wants political reform but there is no consensus as to *what* those reforms are, nor is there acknowledgement in public debate on the reforms which the government have already brought about.
If there is an appetite for a “Reform Scorecard” Nua, may I suggest three amendments to the process conducted in 2011.
1. Each “section” of the reform scorecard should primarily be adjudicated on by those with expertise in that particular area.
2. It would strengthen the process if the panel of “experts” was broadened to include not only Irish political science academics, but international scholars and practitioners. With regard to governance, for instance, GRECO, IDEA, TI, GI and the European Commission have all conducted a review process on Ireland over the last three years and these reviews involved the participation of political journalists, NGOs, civil servants and academics across various disciplines, particularly law. Here are some examples of recent peer-reviewed “score cards” – Global Integrity, Transparency International, IDEA’s Political Finance data for Ireland and GRECO.
3. If I might be so bold to suggest that there is an onus on those who contribute to such a process to propose suggestions for reform where weaknesses are identified. Simply stating that the Irish lobbying legislation (or whatever), for example, falls below the “standard” is not good enough. It must be accompanied by suggestions on what the proposed “standard” should be, with reference to legislation or practice in other jurisdictions.
Over to you, politicalreform.ie community.