Let's reform Government while the IMF control the Economy

bm42

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Jun 15, 2004
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292
So the IMF are here. Once a deal is brokered, no matter how good or bad it may be in your individual perspective, we’ll be tied to it for the next number of years regardless of who is in power. What’s left for the next government to do apart from go through the motions of administering the state on behalf of our IMF overlords? Some might argue that this means that it doesn’t matter who is in power because they’ll all be taking the same direction, no doubt trying to discourage the disaffected but non-politically aligned from voting at all, leaving the party fan-boys to fight it out for the scraps from the IMF table.

I think it’s an unprecedented opportunity for a root and branch overhaul of how we govern ourselves in this country such that we’re prepared to take back our independence when the time comes. Without the pretence of having to manage the ‘Economy’, the next government can dedicate it’s time to reforming our political institutions. This is a thread to discuss what that reform could be. What changes should be made? What outcomes do we want? I’ll get the ball rolling, here’s my vision for a government that rewards competence, focusses on national issues and should inherently improve its own performance over time.

The Executive
Currently our Executive is elected by the Dáil and held to account by the same Dáil and the Seanad. This system has evolved (or more like descended) into farce, illustrated beautifully by the antics in the Dáil yesterday morning. I think the two need to be separated. The Dáil majority should not be sucking up to the Executive for the scraps off their table in the form of Ministries, Junior Ministries, Committee Chairs, etc... Positions on the Executive (Ministries) should not be divvied out based on geography, they should not be a reward for bringing in a running mate, they should selected be based on competency. We need a directly elected Executive, where a party / coalition / alliance put forward their leader and team for election, say a Leader and 12 portfolios. The nominees for each portfolio should be required to have head to head debates on substantive policy issues to inform the public of their plans for the country.

The Seanad
The upper house of the Legislature or Seanad, should be divided into panels, reflecting the breakdown of the portfolios of the Executive, each consisting of maybe 5 deputies, a total of 60 members. The panels should individually hold their respective Executive members to account on policy and performance, and collectively the upper house should scrutinise legislation. Candidates should stand for election under a single portfolio, in a nationwide election, first 5 past the post. The upper house should in theory form a proving ground for people who have aspirations of being in the executive. Panel members should seek to take responsibility for introducing individual Bills within their portfolio on the program for Government on behalf of the Executive (replacing the role of Junior Ministers). If they can find no common ground with the Executive, they should prepare alternative bills to put before the lower house. Either way, they should prepare a minimum number of bills per term per member, to build and demonstrate their competency.
Executive and Seanad Elections should take place every 4 years in tandem. Candidates for the Executive may also run for the Seanad, election to the Executive will mean that that candidate will be excluded from the Seanad election.

The Dail
The lower house is where we need to keep refreshing democracy, we need to constantly get new blood an new perspectives through the Dáil. The primary function of the Dáil should be to scrutinise legislation and question the executive on their policy and performance. We don’t need 166 TD’s. A total of 90 would suffice, 30 constituencies, 3 seats in each, elections every 2 years for 1 seat in each constituency, first past the post each time, this would guarantee both continuity and fresh ideas. Each TD would serve 6 years once elected, unless they get elected to higher office, but would face a two term limit in the Dail. If they cannot make a name for themselves and find a portfolio within which to get themselves elected to the Seanad or Executive within 12 years, they’re toast, they’re of no use to national politics. No more career backbenchers please.
TD’s who are elevated to higher office or leave office for whatever reason should be immediately replaced by the next placed candidate in the most recent election in their constituency.
Following each Dáil election, they will be required to vote confidence in the Executive, allowing the people have a mechanism to reign in an executive that no longer has a popular mandate, like the current one, though in reality it would require a major swing with only 1/3 of TD’s changing in each Dáil Election.

This is a skeleton of how I think a Government that is set up to inherently improve the talents and abilities of its members should work. I wouldn't be hard and fast on the numbers but the goal should be to let the talented guys with a national focus should shine through while the parish pump and single issue guys still get to represent their support base where necessary, but they never get to hold a government to ransom and get churned through if they cannot develop a broader focus over time.

What do other people think about this? What are your alternatives for political reform?
 


dublincitizen

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Jan 23, 2009
Messages
266
We definitely need to radically change the political structures of this country, but I don't agree with your suggestions. I think we should completely do away with the parliamentary system we have atm which is just a remnant from the days of British rule anyway, and follow the examples of countries like France, Finland and Cyprus and have a semi-presidential executive, giving our President more powers and a role in the running of the country and foreign affairs. This would also act as an opportunity to reduce the Presidential term from the current ridiculous 7 years down to a more reasonable 4 years, and we should also allow Irish in the North, as well as Irish diaspora around the world vote in Presidential elections.

We should reform the Seanad to make every senator fully elected by universal suffrage and do away with the current elitist system that we have now which was clearly based on the British House of Lords. The number of senators then should be reduced from 60 to 32 - 1 for each county, similar to the system in the United States where they have 2 senators for each state no matter what the population is, and this would include 6 representatives from the North. The Seanad elections could then take place on the same day as the Presidential elections, allowing opposition parties to take the Seanad while the governing party is still in power, which would increase accountability.

As for the Dáil, again I don't agree with the reforms you're suggesting as they seem regressive at best. I don't understand how you can propose retaining the same number of senators, yet propose slashing TD numbers to 90? Obviously we need to reduce the number of TDs as 166 is too many, but cutting them to 120 would do IMO. I'm also not gone on the idea of having mid-term elections, and allowing TDs to serve for 6 years. I also don't see the point in imposing limitations on how many terms a TD can serve? I can see the purpose for imposing fixed terms on governments and Presidents as they hold the power and run the country, but TDs alone have very little power, so what would imposing fixed terms do other than force a great politician into early retirement?
 

jules

Member
Joined
Nov 19, 2010
Messages
7
Yes please!!!
it is probably one of the few good things the IMF could do. the parties dont/wont have the bottle to stand up to the unions who, inevitably will oppose reforms that have long been needed but are unavoidable now.
 

kerdasi amaq

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Aug 24, 2009
Messages
4,689
we definitely need a change. the old system is NOT working
Actually, the system is working perfectly, for the people who devised it. It gives them a stranglehold on the destiny of the Irish People through their control of their tools: the Fianna Fáil party.
 

TradCat

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Joined
Jun 5, 2005
Messages
1,989
We can argue about the details but the idea is sound. Reform of the system is essential. It should be the key election issue given the consensus on the economy.

I think term limits should be part of any reform as the political class has become insular and practically self-perpetrating.
 

UnityNua

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Nov 18, 2010
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www.unitynua.ie
I whole heartily agree we need political reform. I would argue about the details of the exact reforms.

We do need a process to introduce political reform. There is an army of commentators proposing electorial changes.

But we need a commitment and a plan for implementing reform.

I have proposed (Google Unity Nua) that a national plebiscite be held on a number of questions - should a Government of National Unity be formed and should a program of political reforms with a three year time table to implement (Vote Una 2011).

The Vote Nua proposal asked a committee to draw up reform options and put them to the voters in a referendum for selection.

A referendum with real choices on it, that would be a revolution.
 

bm42

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Joined
Jun 15, 2004
Messages
292
We definitely need to radically change the political structures of this country, but I don't agree with your suggestions. I think we should completely do away with the parliamentary system we have atm which is just a remnant from the days of British rule anyway, and follow the examples of countries like France, Finland and Cyprus and have a semi-presidential executive, giving our President more powers and a role in the running of the country and foreign affairs. This would also act as an opportunity to reduce the Presidential term from the current ridiculous 7 years down to a more reasonable 4 years, and we should also allow Irish in the North, as well as Irish diaspora around the world vote in Presidential elections.
I think we're agreed that the executive should no longer be selected by the legislature but directly elected by the people. In my proposal, the leader of the executive would be the president, I don't realy care what the title is, but I think if they have to present their full team to the public before the election rather than appointing them afterwards or selecting them from parliment, that way it becomes much more about policy and all round competancy than personality.

We should reform the Seanad to make every senator fully elected by universal suffrage and do away with the current elitist system that we have now which was clearly based on the British House of Lords. The number of senators then should be reduced from 60 to 32 - 1 for each county, similar to the system in the United States where they have 2 senators for each state no matter what the population is, and this would include 6 representatives from the North. The Seanad elections could then take place on the same day as the Presidential elections, allowing opposition parties to take the Seanad while the governing party is still in power, which would increase accountability.
I see the seanad as an place where people should have specialist expertise. They should directly scrutinise the ministers actions on a daily basis. These should be the senior politicians and should be elected by a national constituency based on their expertise, no need for regional representation, these people should be above local issues.

As for the Dáil, again I don't agree with the reforms you're suggesting as they seem regressive at best. I don't understand how you can propose retaining the same number of senators, yet propose slashing TD numbers to 90? Obviously we need to reduce the number of TDs as 166 is too many, but cutting them to 120 would do IMO. I'm also not gone on the idea of having mid-term elections, and allowing TDs to serve for 6 years. I also don't see the point in imposing limitations on how many terms a TD can serve? I can see the purpose for imposing fixed terms on governments and Presidents as they hold the power and run the country, but TDs alone have very little power, so what would imposing fixed terms do other than force a great politician into early retirement?
I think the Seanad should have far more importance than it does currently, hence maintaining the numbers, they should be the policy heavyweights. We have too many TD's focussed on fixing potholes and going to funerals to get reelected. We have too many TD's who are unknown outside of their own constituency despite spending most of their adult life in politics. It's time to get rid of this dead wod, term limits will do this. Single issue and local issue candidates will always have a place but if they haven't addressed their problems in 12 years, they're unlikely to. If a TD wants to continue in national politics beyond 12 years, they need to step up to a higher leverl, the Seanad or the Executive, while the dross should eb sent to an early retirement, no pensions before 65 though. I have no problem with term limits at higher levels too.

I'm not saying I have the solution, I'm trying to get people thinking and solicit other peoples ideas. Thanks for yours.
 

MPB

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Nov 27, 2009
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4,455
I agree that we need to reform the whole system, but any decisions on reform should not be made by those currently involved in the party political system.

We have already been brought to our knees by vested interest politics.

We should set up a National Forum made up of people drawn from all aspects of public and business life.

Everybody and every organisation should be allowed to make suggestions and then the forum should come up with 3 alternatives to the current system and hold a referendum.
 

wombat

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Jun 16, 2007
Messages
33,539
IWe should set up a National Forum made up of people drawn from all aspects of public and business life.
.
I doubt the IMF will fund another gravy train;)
 

MPB

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Nov 27, 2009
Messages
4,455
I doubt the IMF will fund another gravy train;)
Why would you need to fund it?

It would be purely voluntary. Any administration could be done with existing PS workers on existing pay rates.

You see that is what reform means. Doing things differently. No point in bothering otherwise.
 

justme1

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Oct 4, 2010
Messages
595
How many times does the plane have to crash into the mountain for Irish people to at least get a pilot who is at least not drunk,for most Irish people democracy means ticking a box every 5 years,our political system is and always has been a joke/disgrace.Yes now is the time to change it,but i'm sure as hell someone with a TD's wage and pension and a minister's wage and pension (getting each/all under the age of 55) will tell us 'We have spoken to the AG and and he has told us that a change is simply not allowed to happen'.
What i really like about the 'change' that we are about to get is that the leader of the opposition is in the Dail 35 years!!! The Labour leader is there 21 years,change???Only in the land of leprachauns!!!
 

Keith-M

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Joined
Jul 24, 2007
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15,668
Website
www.allkindsofeverything.ie
I would agree that now gives us the perfect chance to reform government at all level in this country. My suggestions;

PRESIDENT
Little or no change here, but I would allow a candidate that can get 100k verified signatures to stand for election. I would reduce the term to 5 years and no automatic re-election. If no other candidates are nominated, we should hve a ballot with a "yes" or "no" option to a second term.

DÁIL
A total overhaul. 140 TDs are enough. We need to have bigger regional constituencies (7-10 max) and elect people using a party list system with a 5% threshold.

SENATE
Worse than useless talking shop for has-beens and wannabes. Get rid of it and no large pensions/pay-offs. They've ridden the gravy train for years.

COUNCILS
It is ridiculous that our local government works on lines drawn on the map, by the English four hundred years ago. We need about 7-10 regional councils. I would give them tax varying powers on rates, a local sales tax and property tax but they would get no central funding.

Finally, as we would need a referendum for the changes to the Dail and Senate, on the same day I would have a vote abolish the ridiculous idea that the government can't reduce the salaries of judges, as they see fit.
 


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