Can Ireland's PR voting system be modified to incentivise governments to engage in long term planning?

Patslatt1

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Can Ireland's PR voting system be modified to incentivise governments to engage in long term planning?

For a description of the system, see https://www.irishtimes.com/news/proportional-representation-what-it-is-and-how-it-works-1.579519

Irish voters are attached to the PR system apparently because it promotes a wide choice of political parties and independent candidates and enables voters to hedge their political bets by voting for politicians who are not their first choice. But the system arguably has not served the country well, going by the economic crises of the 1950s, 70s, 80s and 2009.

The typical Irish solution to mass unemployment in these crises was the brutal one of emigration. In the days of expensive air fares, many parents rarely saw their adult children again.

The key fault of Ireland's extreme version of PR is that TD politicians must focus on local politics to get elected and this forces many,including ministers, to neglect their role as national parliamentarians. Ministers in multiple member constituencies are often competing against candidates of their own party. Also, the wide choice of candidates in effect actively invites the voters to vote for them which tends to create far too many parties.

As a result,indecisive coalition governments prevail and long term planning for government is often sacrificed for electioneering advantage. For instance,infrastructure projects are neglected in favour of vote getting pay raises for the public sector and increases in old age pensions. Acute care hospitals that are too numerous at twenty nine for efficient quality of care are kept open as a source of employment in localities.

Reform of Irish PR doesn't have to go the way of the UK's "First past the post" which tends to pick the best candidate but makes it very hard for a new political party to emerge.

Reforms might include a limit of about 5% of the vote for a political party to be created and a massive reduction in the number of TDs to around 30 to keep them from acting like councillors. Israel gets by with about forty parliamentarians AFAIK.

As Charlie Haughey joked, a lot of TDs are needed to find any with brains for the cabinet.Alternatively, the Singapore solution could be adopted to attract able government ministers, paying them like CEOs of major corporations. Singapore's government is rated extremely highly for efficiency, though lacking real democratic opposition.

Of course, a lot of minor ministries would need to be abolished to save such CEO money. President Roosvelt ran WW2 with only seven ministers, known as secretaries.
 


ainm_eile

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The solution is actually simple.

Introduce bicameralism, with the Seanad constituencies being substantially bigger than Dáil ones. The assent of both houses would be required to pass any law. Seanad elections would be staggered, with half up for election every 5 years.'

How does this solve the problems you outlined?

First, Senators aren't going to support an economic policy narrowly aimed at winning a Dáil election every five years, since it would hurt their own prospects when they're up for election in between. Any Government would be required to broadly think in terms of 2.5-7.5 years ahead instead of the one single vote.

Likewise, a Senator for Munster isn't going to give too much support to the Healy-Raes or Michael Lowry, because it might annoy their voters in Cork and Limerick. Governments aren't going to cut the usual deals with independents if they can't be implemented. There is nothing stopping a TD from selling their vote in exchange for something like a motorway between Cork and Limerick though.

A directly elected Taoiseach and a ban on sitting members of the Oireachtas serving as ministers would likewise ensure that the executive was less fragmented and less cosy with the Dáil. Any appointments by the Taoiseach should be confirmed by the Seanad instead of the Dáil to stop TDs from dividing the executive amongst themselves.

This proposal preserves many of the advantages of our current system in that it pays a lot of attention to local concerns, it just doesn't let them predominate.
 

shiel

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We have more politicians relative to population than similar countries.

We should have got rid of the Seanad.

The electoral system is better than the alternatives but like all human institutions less than perfect.

Our real problem is not the electoral system but the opinion formation in media.

The powerful opinion formers in celtic tiger times ensured that one group was re-elected in successive elections, got arrogant and reckless and bankrupt the country.

The electoral system did not cause that. Media insiders together with the powerful in government and financial institutions did.

Things have not changed.
 

Man or Mouse

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We have more politicians relative to population than similar countries.

We should have got rid of the Seanad.

The electoral system is better than the alternatives but like all human institutions less than perfect.

Our real problem is not the electoral system but the opinion formation in media.

The powerful opinion formers in celtic tiger times ensured that one group was re-elected in successive elections, got arrogant and reckless and bankrupt the country.

The electoral system did not cause that. Media insiders together with the powerful in government and financial institutions did.

Things have not changed.
Agree with much of what you say, but also think the OP is right in the need to reduce ratio of TDs to population. 1:75,000 would give us about 60 TDs, plenty to run the country rather than the parish pump.
 

Fr Peter McWhinger

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Elections are effectively popularity contests, and reduce to auctions wherein votes are bought with promises. The left promise lots of free stuff funded by other peoples money, where as the right promise people they can keep more of their own money.

Lots of free stuff policies and lots of borrowed money will diminish productivity.

The EU has attempted to limit deficit spending. Ultimately the money markets will limit free stuff type policy and deficit funded spending.

"Fixing an economy" by way of long term planning, will get you displaced from Government, by an opponent promising lots of free stuff.
 

Patslatt1

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The solution is actually simple.

Introduce bicameralism, with the Seanad constituencies being substantially bigger than Dáil ones. The assent of both houses would be required to pass any law. Seanad elections would be staggered, with half up for election every 5 years.'

How does this solve the problems you outlined?

First, Senators aren't going to support an economic policy narrowly aimed at winning a Dáil election every five years, since it would hurt their own prospects when they're up for election in between. Any Government would be required to broadly think in terms of 2.5-7.5 years ahead instead of the one single vote.

Likewise, a Senator for Munster isn't going to give too much support to the Healy-Raes or Michael Lowry, because it might annoy their voters in Cork and Limerick. Governments aren't going to cut the usual deals with independents if they can't be implemented. There is nothing stopping a TD from selling their vote in exchange for something like a motorway between Cork and Limerick though.

A directly elected Taoiseach and a ban on sitting members of the Oireachtas serving as ministers would likewise ensure that the executive was less fragmented and less cosy with the Dáil. Any appointments by the Taoiseach should be confirmed by the Seanad instead of the Dáil to stop TDs from dividing the executive amongst themselves.

This proposal preserves many of the advantages of our current system in that it pays a lot of attention to local concerns, it just doesn't let them predominate.
The above sounds like the US system, including separation of the executive from the legislature. The US is in constant gridlocked polarisation.

Executive presidents and their ministers don't answer directly to the elected members which allows them to hide and favours the election of popular politicians who aren't all that bright. Question time in parliament is quite demanding for political leaders and helps accountability.
 

Patslatt1

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Elections are effectively popularity contests, and reduce to auctions wherein votes are bought with promises. The left promise lots of free stuff funded by other peoples money, where as the right promise people they can keep more of their own money.

Lots of free stuff policies and lots of borrowed money will diminish productivity.

The EU has attempted to limit deficit spending. Ultimately the money markets will limit free stuff type policy and deficit funded spending.

"Fixing an economy" by way of long term planning, will get you displaced from Government, by an opponent promising lots of free stuff.
There is far too much pressure for promising freebies in the existing PR system which tends to favour village pump politics because the TDs are too close to the grassroots like councillors. A reduction in TDs to about 30 would create distance from the grassroots and increase the focus on national and regional issues in elections. Elections of TDs would be influenced by debating issues on national media. Instead of promising a local person a raise in the old age pension at the village pump, the candidates would have to explain the tradeoff say between a raise in the pension and providing some badly needed increases in universities' funding to keep standards from collapsing.
 

Burnout

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I have a life.
The village nearest to me has no pump as it disappeared years ago for scrap or garden decoration, however the same retarded mentality abounds with the usual parties.
 

Sister Mercedes

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You don't build a country top down. Start at the bottom and build up. Our councils need to be completely rebuilt, given more powers and held more accountable. City and County Managers should be elected positions.
 

blokesbloke

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So, so nice to read an intelligent and interesting thread from you Pat without the usual anti-PS single transferable thread.
 

Catalpast

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The Taoiseach anyway should be a directly elected position

- he should be able to pick his Cabinet from any Irish Citizen who has the skills to do the job IMO

At least to some degree

Though TBH I don't think there is any 'perfect' solution here

Maybe its part of our National psyche not to be able to do Forward Planning particularly well....
 

Fr Peter McWhinger

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The Taoiseach anyway should be a directly elected position

- he should be able to pick his Cabinet from any Irish Citizen who has the skills to do the job IMO

At least to some degree

Though TBH I don't think there is any 'perfect' solution here

Maybe its part of our National psyche not to be able to do Forward Planning particularly well....
That would allow a Taoiseach to be disposed after one term and get his or her policy platform implemented. The Dáil could simply stick to producing legislation.
 

Round tower

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The village nearest to me has no pump as it disappeared years ago for scrap or garden decoration, however the same retarded mentality abounds with the usual parties.
I expect u are on about FF, FG and Labour in this country, but this can be said about all parties, SF, Solidarity/PBP, SD and Indp., they all have to make promises. If u don't believe that i suggest in the next election go on for election and make no promises and see how many votes u get.
 

Dasayev

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Out of all the problems we have in the country, the voting system is the least of our worries.

We have powerless local government, a largely powerless Dáil, and a pointless Seanad. All the real power resides in a the hands of the government - which most of the time amounts to only a handful of people - such as the Taoiseach, Minister of Finance and a couple of others, along with senior Civil Servants.

The voter only has a bit of power once every five years or at referendum time and is far removed from the decision making.

So if you want local issues taken care of locally, then local government has to become stronger.

If you want TDs to look after national issues, then the Dáil has to become relevant.

And if you want Government to think long term, then you'd need some kind of national strategy that has the backing of the people.

I guess the best way to build such a consensus would be through direct democracy.

With the citizenry having more power to decide things a consenus of what is politically possible would emerge naturally, as opposed to now where the political class decides everything behind closed doors and presents government policy, even if it is the opposite of what they campaigned on, as a fait accompli to the people.
 

Jim Car

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The solution is actually simple.

Introduce bicameralism, with the Seanad constituencies being substantially bigger than Dáil ones. The assent of both houses would be required to pass any law. Seanad elections would be staggered, with half up for election every 5 years.'

How does this solve the problems you outlined?

First, Senators aren't going to support an economic policy narrowly aimed at winning a Dáil election every five years, since it would hurt their own prospects when they're up for election in between. Any Government would be required to broadly think in terms of 2.5-7.5 years ahead instead of the one single vote.

Likewise, a Senator for Munster isn't going to give too much support to the Healy-Raes or Michael Lowry, because it might annoy their voters in Cork and Limerick. Governments aren't going to cut the usual deals with independents if they can't be implemented. There is nothing stopping a TD from selling their vote in exchange for something like a motorway between Cork and Limerick though.

A directly elected Taoiseach and a ban on sitting members of the Oireachtas serving as ministers would likewise ensure that the executive was less fragmented and less cosy with the Dáil. Any appointments by the Taoiseach should be confirmed by the Seanad instead of the Dáil to stop TDs from dividing the executive amongst themselves.

This proposal preserves many of the advantages of our current system in that it pays a lot of attention to local concerns, it just doesn't let them predominate.
Sopt on. I would argue that in order to rectify the rural urban imbalance the Seanad should be a bit like the US senate two senators per county would ensure neglected rural areas were better represented. In addition I would give them vetting powers over certain appointments as well as a role in treaty ratification. As for government there needs to be a removal of the mixing between legislator and executive. Should adopt the Dutch system were once you are appointed to government you resign your seat in the legislator, we should also allow for non elected people if approved by senate or dail depending which way we want to do it to be allowed become members of the government. The last idea is not a controversial one many if not most countries do it. Problem with our system it it affords far to much power to the executive which in turn has too much control over the legislator. Mine you this is mitigated when we have minority governments.
 

Fr Peter McWhinger

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There is far too much pressure for promising freebies in the existing PR system which tends to favour village pump politics because the TDs are too close to the grassroots like councillors. A reduction in TDs to about 30 would create distance from the grassroots and increase the focus on national and regional issues in elections. Elections of TDs would be influenced by debating issues on national media. Instead of promising a local person a raise in the old age pension at the village pump, the candidates would have to explain the tradeoff say between a raise in the pension and providing some badly needed increases in universities' funding to keep standards from collapsing.

There is a fallacy in the proposition that giving Universities more money will lead to higher standards. Universities need to compete with each other on the basis of quality and price.

Students need to be exposed to the costs of third level such that they have an incentive to apply themselves and not to overconsume University Services.
 

Degeneration X

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The Taoiseach anyway should be a directly elected position

- he should be able to pick his Cabinet from any Irish Citizen who has the skills to do the job IMO

At least to some degree

Though TBH I don't think there is any 'perfect' solution here

Maybe its part of our National psyche not to be able to do Forward Planning particularly well....
You would prefer a more "Presidential" system then. With a clear separation of powers between the executive and legislative branches of government?

It would be an interesting change of pace alright though I can never see it see it happening in the ROI.
 

wombat

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Out of all the problems we have in the country, the voting system is the least of our worries.
I disagree, the multi seat constituencies are a major impediment to serious legislators getting elected. Many of our TDs would be happy on the local council if councillors had a bit of power. Most TDs lose their seats to a member of their own party, typically a popular local councillor who builds up their profile while the TD is away in Dublin. A good example was Alan Dukes who lost his seat to a collection of anonymous parish pumpers, unknown outside their area. Personally, I favour the Australian single seat constituencies where the member is elected by the transferable vote.
 

Jim Car

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I disagree, the multi seat constituencies are a major impediment to serious legislators getting elected. Many of our TDs would be happy on the local council if councillors had a bit of power. Most TDs lose their seats to a member of their own party, typically a popular local councillor who builds up their profile while the TD is away in Dublin. A good example was Alan Dukes who lost his seat to a collection of anonymous parish pumpers, unknown outside their area. Personally, I favour the Australian single seat constituencies where the member is elected by the transferable vote.
Essentially what is needed in addition to a reformed Seanad is decentralisation or federalisation which would be more likely if there was a serious chance of UI. Would certainly remove the national parliament form local petty politics.
 

Dame_Enda

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I dont support UK/US-style FPTP. I also dont support a List System, which I believe would disproportionately hurt smaller parties where personal loyalities are often stronger than party-brand-loyalty.

I like the New Politics. It stops the govt from abusing the 'guillotine' to shut down debate. Dumb legislation e.g. Swedish model, does still get passed but much less frequently.

I support limited reforms, such as linking seat apportionment to the population of citizens rather than overall population. I believe the present system makes seat apportionment less proportionate to the share of the vote. I also support every constituency having the same number of seats. I believe 3 seaters are unfair to smaller parties, and that the current selective way in which some constituencies get 3, others 4 and others 5 is ripe for potential gerrymandering.
 
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