Is there a solution to "Parish Pump" Politics?

MsAnneThrope

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I have seen, as I'm sure you all have, countless cases of Ministers having secured votes based solely on local issues. The proverbial 'pothole' fixing, the approval/disapproval of a certain development, a promise to secure funding for a local organisation etc. I've seen a serving minister arrive in a pub with a catering van in tow, handing out baskets of cocktail sausages and sandwiches, with a free round of drinks for the locals, followed by a quick tour of the pub asking "Can I get your vote now Johnny?". Inevitably no or few policy questions are ever asked and on the day of the elections the only consideration is "He bought me a pint and a few sausages" so he gets my #1.

This is madness. I'd like your views on whether this could ever be changed? Could a candidate from Cork be forced to run in Dublin (and vice versa) on national interest policies and merit/intelligence/sincerity/track record etc.? A Mayo candidate has to get elected in Meath (and vice versa) etc.

Surely there are enough local councillors (who sadly often get elected the same way) to deal with the local pothole issues. But when it comes to the National Interest and the running of the country for the benefit of the entire population we need a better system?

My understanding is a new Garda cannot serve in his/her local town/area for obvious reasons of potential conflict of interest. Why can't the same ideology be applied when it comes to electing our Government?

Is there a solution to "Parish Pump" Politics?
 


Question R24U

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Large multi seat constituencies would be a good start. Eg nine or ten seaters can be done without the need for a referendum (which could be lost).
TDs having to attend the dail on mondays and fridays to claim expenses would also help provide distance from the parishes.
 

Mr.Business

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Off topic I know but relates to the greatest parish pump politician of them all Willie O' Dea. I heard a rumour this morning that his car was attacked and vandalised in Limerick but haven't seen any press on it. Anyone out there in the know?
 

Gruffalo

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Less TD's thus resulting in larger constituencies
 

tmesis2008

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This is madness. I'd like your views on whether this could ever be changed? Could a candidate from Cork be forced to run in Dublin (and vice versa) on national interest policies and merit/intelligence/sincerity/track record etc.? A Mayo candidate has to get elected in Meath (and vice versa) etc.
I don't think it's a problem that can be sorted out easily, but you are right, it is a problem, and it's hardly just an Irish problem: I think that it's an intrinsic part of politics and human nature.

People will vote for the person who does something for them personally (and vice versa) and will fail to see the bigger social, political picture. Better civic education in schools could address this, but it would never go away.

I think it's good in this situation to try to look to other countries and see what they have done to address the issue, or whether they have addressed it at all.

Some people can't be helped though. They will vote for a person for silly reasons, often against their own interests (often without realizing it).
 
G

Gimpanzee

Large multi seat constituencies would be a good start. Eg nine or ten seaters can be done without the need for a referendum (which could be lost).
TDs having to attend the dail on mondays and fridays to claim expenses would also help provide distance from the parishes.
Doesn't work in rural constituencies. Even 3 seater constituencies are divided into informal fiefdoms. It would be replicated in 7+ seaters.
 

FrankSpeaks

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The list system is one way but I don't know how independents (whom I think are an essential) will fare out in it.
 

Kf

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Gimpanzee is right. Larger multi seat constituencies wouldn't make much difference.

We despartely need a list system for General Elections and keep with the current set up for locals.

The end result would be better local govt and a far higher calibre of TDs.
 

DeathKnell

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Doesn't work in rural constituencies. Even 3 seater constituencies are divided into informal fiefdoms. It would be replicated in 7+ seaters.
Ya.. You got to reduce the number of TDs.. A Maximum of 1 per 50/60k people. That reduces the effect of dissapointing one pot-hole/hospital/whatever pressure group and would ensure a more regional focus..

You will never get rid of graft and patronage.. We can but make it harder to have an effect..
 

myk

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I think a vigorous civic campaign highlighting the prevalance and the failings of parish pump politics about one year before the scheduled end of the current Dail would be helpful.
 
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The list system is one way but I don't know how independents (whom I think are an essential) will fare out in it.
I hear you dude,the list system works fairly well in other countrys and perhaps we could elect the senead by list and dail by constituency. List system would allow non career polticians to enter the game. For example at the next election many parties would load their list's with economists and entrepreneur's if thats what they wanted. If law and order issue's were prevelant they could load their lists with retired senior guard commisioner or barrister or former high/supreme court judge etc. Personally I would like the devoloution of power to local people and while i certainly am no dissident republican rsf's ruairi o'braidigh came up with the eire nua plan of a federalised country based on ulster, munster, connacht, leinster state legislators and federal gov aka the USA or my pref, switzerland. I think this would particularly benefit connacht.
 

Slippers

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The list system is one way but I don't know how independents (whom I think are an essential) will fare out in it.
I worked out what the result would have been if we had used single constituency, largest remainder, Hare quota at the last general election. This is ignoring the fact that small parties would have gotten more votes because they would have been on every ballot paper like the big parties. Also ignoring the Ceann Comhairle.

The result was:

Fianna Fáil 69
Fine Gael 45
Labour 17
Sinn Féin 12
Green Party 8
Progressive Democrats 5
Socialist Party 1
Michael Lowry 1
Beverley Flynn 1
Jackie Healy Rae 1
Seamus Healy 1
Richard Boyd Barrett 1
James Breen 1
Catherine Murphy 1
Finian McGrath 1

I have all the calculations in an Excel sheet but I don't know how to post it.
For example, the Fianna Fáil entries in the ten columns are:

Ballot Line = FF
Votes = 858565
Seats = 68.57515
Whole Seats = 68
Remainders = 0.575147279
Highest Remainders = 1
Totals = 69
Actual = 77
Before Transfers = 81
Constituencies = 43

and the Socialist Party entries are:

Ballot Line = SP
Votes = 13218
Seats = 1.055746
Whole Seats = 1
Remainders = 0.055745688
Highest Remainders = 0
Totals = 1
Actual = 0
Before Transfers = 0
Constituencies = 4

This system is both more accurate and simpler. The ballot paper would be longer but people would only have to pick one. There would only be one count. If anyone is worried that no transfers would mean more deadend votes, the current system had 20.2% deadend votes. This system only had 3.6% and all other votes got their first preference.

If we stick with STV, the least we can do is use the Hare quota so that people who already got their fair share of representation elected don't get to pick another unless they deserve it. For example, in a 3-seater if one candidate gets precisely one third of the votes it should be up to the remaining voters to decide amongst themselves who gets the remaining seats - the first third already got their guy - but under a lower quota, like we use, some of that first third of votes will transfer. This applies equally in later counts - I know it's unlikely someone will reach the Hare quota on the first count.

If anyone wants the numbers for a different party or an independent just ask.
 
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marmurr1916

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That's an interesting result. I wonder what it would have been if the system included a 5% (or maybe less) national threshold like in Germany?

There's information here and here about how to post a spreadsheet to the web.

A national list system (with a national threshold), plus the devolution of some central government powers, including local tax-raising powers, to local government is the only way to ensure that TDs represent the national interest, rather than local interests.
 

Slippers

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A threshold isn't fair. It means less people would get what they voted for and a party that got their 165th of the vote wouldn't be guaranteed their 165th of the Dáil. With a 5% threshold only FF, FG, Lb and SF would have gotten any seats.

I'll have a look at the links. I also have spreadsheets for Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council 2004, Irish EU 2004 and Israel 2009 (they use a single constituency but with a different system).
 

Keith-M

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I have have long supported the idea of larger constuencies using the list system. Dividing the country into regions matching the Euro constituencies and then having something like 120 seats with TDs being elected through D'Hondt.
 

juanpablo

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Taking inspiration from Eire Nua(but nothing else) i think part of removing the parish pump from national politics is devolving powers to a local level. To do this i propose merging the LAs into larger units and paying no attention to county boundaries. In areas like transport & education these can be administered more effectively at a a regional level.

At national level a reduction in the number of TDs, introduction of a list system, with a focus then on issues of national as opposed to local importance.
 

marmurr1916

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A threshold isn't fair. It means less people would get what they voted for and a party that got their 165th of the vote wouldn't be guaranteed their 165th of the Dáil. With a 5% threshold only FF, FG, Lb and SF would have gotten any seats.
That would suit me. The Jackie Healy Rae's of this world belong on their local county councils, not in the Dail.

I won't say where I think the Lowrys and Cooper-Flynns of this world belong.
 

Question R24U

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1. The Seanad
This the easy part:
Allow each of the County Councils nominate one candidate.
The rest is made of of members of the social partners.

2. Dail:
4 constituencies (same as Euro ones)
Each elect 15 TDs
Then a list system elects the next 40 from the all of the defeated candidates based on proportion of the votes cast*.
Party funding is based on total number of votes received.

* this coul be varied so that once a vote is used to elect someone it is not counted for the purposes of the list (ie all votes will count, but only once).

3. Dail sits on Mondays and Fridays forexpenses.
4. In order to claim expenses, all TDs must sit series of seminars economics, management, sustainable development,law, etc

5. Term limits of 4 terms (ie max 20 years, no career politicians) for any TD.
 

Rocky

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I hear you dude,the list system works fairly well in other countrys and perhaps we could elect the senead by list and dail by constituency. List system would allow non career polticians to enter the game. For example at the next election many parties would load their list's with economists and entrepreneur's if thats what they wanted. If law and order issue's were prevelant they could load their lists with retired senior guard commisioner or barrister or former high/supreme court judge etc. Personally I would like the devoloution of power to local people and while i certainly am no dissident republican rsf's ruairi o'braidigh came up with the eire nua plan of a federalised country based on ulster, munster, connacht, leinster state legislators and federal gov aka the USA or my pref, switzerland. I think this would particularly benefit connacht.
But the problem is now whoever creates the list has a lot of power, be that the membership of the party or the leadership of that party and there is no reason to believe that they will pick the most intelligent or most qualified people. Instead odds are they will chose people for other crap reasons.

The Israeli system where there is only one constituency and a list system inevitably does destroy all parish pump politics, but in that case the membership of the parties have a lot of power and they don't always vote for the best people either.

No system is ever going to be perfect because quite simply people aren't perfect. However to be fair right now I would prefer a system where cllrs have more power and it's a full time job and they fix potholes etc, which is basically their job to do and a smaller number of people are elected to the Dail to legalisate. However at that we would need to completely change how the Dail works as right now, the government simply legalisate and the Dail rubber stamps the decisions they have already made, so the problem goes beyond simply the electoral system.
 
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Victor Meldrew

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Great to see the list system getting a good hearing. Personally i would like to see councils with power and a budget for potholes and parish pumps. Then go with the list system and direct elections for 80 TDs. The Taoiseach and half the cabinet have to be direct elects
 


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